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Author: 



Ivey, Paul Wesley 



Title: 



Elements of retail 
salesmanship 

Place: 

New York 

Date: 

1920 



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Irey, Paul Weeley. 

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X 



ELEMENTS OF 
RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



( 



BY 

PAUL WESLEY IVEY, Ph.D. 

Associate Professor of Economics and Commerce, University 

of Nebraska. Formerly Assistant Professor of Business 

Administration in the Extension Division, State 

University of Iowa. Author, "The Pere 

Marquette Railroad Company.'* 



THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 



1920 

All rights reserved 



DAMAGED PAGE(S) 



COPTEIGHT, 1920 

By the MACMILLAN COMPANY 



Set up and electrotyped. Published February, 1920. 



Iciju^^- 



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TO MY WIFE 

IN APPRECIATION OF HER AID 

IN THE PREPARATION OF 

THIS VOLUME 



ft I 



INTRODUCTION 

In the following treatise an attempt is made to present 
the elements of salesmanship and show how they may 
be profitably applied to retail selling. Until recently, 
retail stores have not seen the wisdom or the necessity 
of systematically and scientifically training their sales- 
people in selling goods. With the widening scope of 
mail order business and the increasing competition be- 
tween towns due to better transportation facilities, meth- 
ods of selling goods are receiving attention that a few 
years ago would have seemed misplaced. Selling serv- 
ice has now become as important as selling goods. The 
significance of this new development and its application 
to retail stores forms the ground plan for the material 
herein presented. 

The chief reason for the presentation of this book be- 
fore the public at this time is the many requests that 
have come from salespeople in the department stores 
where the author has lectured asking for the incorporation 
of the lecture material in a permanent form. It is with 
the hope of gratifying the wishes of these students of 
salesmanship as well as that of satisfying a distinct need 
now felt by progressive retailers for a practical text for 
store classes in salesmanship, that this treatise appears in 
its present form. If it serves to make the salesperson 
see the educational possibilities in her ^ work and the re- 

^ The feminine gender is used throughout this book because ninety-five 
per cent of the customers and salespeople in department stores are women. 

vii 



Vlll 



INTRODUCTION 



lation of better service to community welfare, it will 
have accomplished the purpose for which it was intended. 
No originality is claimed for the principles of sales- 
manship herein introduced. However, some of these 
have been applied In a new way and related to retail 
selling where heretofore they have for the most part 
been presented in relation to other phases of selling goods. 
This intimate relating of general principles of salesman- 
ship to retail selling by means of illustrations and special 
retail problems makes the book of special value to the 
retail salesperson, although the student of salesmanship 
in high schools and colleges will find much that will be of 

interest. 

For the source materials the author is indebted to 
many merchants, salespeople and teachers with whom he 
has conducted the teaching of salesmanship. Also, the 
many books on salesmanship, especially the more recent 
ones, have contributed numerous important ideas, indi- 
vidual acknowledgment of which would be impossible. 
Most important of all sources, however, is the selling 
experience that the author is fortunate enough to have 
had. It is believed that this combination of practical 
experience with theoretical knowledge is sufficient qualifi- 
cation for presenting the most important elements of 

retail salesmanship. 

Paul W. Ivey. 



TABLE OF CONTENTS 

PAGE 

CHAPTER yJJ 

Introduction 

I Modern Developments ^ 

II Knowing the Goods ^5 

III Knowing the Goods (Continued) 43 

IV Knowing the Customer 64. 

V Knowing the Customer (Continued) . . . • 90 

VI Elements of Personality ^^^ 

VII Elements of Personauty (Continued) ... 140 

VIII The Selling Process ^^7 

IX Store System and Method 201 

Problems ^^' 

Bibliography ^^^ 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



CHAPTER I 

MODERN DEVELOPMENTS 

Before the student of salesmanship can comprehend 
the changes that are taking place in retailing or can fore- 
see the possibilities of the future in the merchandising 
of goods, it is extremely necessary to realize clearly 
and comprehensively the important changes that have 
transpired in other fields of production. The fact must 
soon be borne in on the student's mind that only through 
change does progress appear; that the possibility of prog- 
ress in the production and distribution of goods in any 
state or country rests on the ability and willingness of 
the masses as well as the leaders to change their minds. 
In other words, open-mindedness precedes change or 
progress, and the latter can never appear in practical 
effort to benefit mankind unless it enters through the 
door of the former. When the minds of any body of 
people become opposed to change, when they become in- 
flexible and static, then we have what are known as Dark 
Ages. Because of this static nature of people's minds, 
their opposition to change, their willingness to do as 
their fathers have done, many towns in the United States 
are " backward " and are accomplishing little as com- 



1 



2 RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 

pared to other towns with equal advantages and oppor- 
tunities. Because of unwillingness to adopt new ideas, 
China is still plowing her millions of acres with crooked 
sticks, and spinning and weaving by hand processes. In 
some other lines of endeavor she is equally backward, as 
are many other countries. 

To keep one's mind open to new ideas is to make prog- 
ress; and the more open-minded the people in any town, 
state or country, the more progressive and wealthy is 
each one of these political units. It is the privilege of 
each student of retailing to be ever on the alert for new 
ideas, for new ways of doing things. Just to the extent 
that those interested in retailing take this attitude, will 
retailing become scientific in its every detail and hence 
capable of distributing goods at the lowest possible cost. 
Justification for the '' middleman '' can be stated in no 
more certain terms than this increased efficiency referred 
to. 



THE INDUSTRIAL AND AGRICULTURAL REVOLUTIONS 

Until one hundred and fifty years ago, roughly speak- 
ing, production took place in the home. Each family 
was practically self supporting, producing its own cloth- 
ing, food and shelter. Only a few articles such as salt, 
plow shares, etc., were imported from other communities. 
In this autonomous order of society there was little 
specialization. This was necessarily so since the demand 
for any product in a community was limited by the lack 
of transportation facilities. There were no railroads 
and for the most part the roads were impassable for 
heavy trafllic. The demand for any product, such as 
horseshoeing or weaving, was thus limited to the town 
itself, and whether specialization was developed to any 



MODERN DEVELOPMENTS 3 

degree naturally depended upon the size of the town. 
As specialization means opportunity to do one thing all 
day year in and year out, it amounts to nothing more or 
less than expertness. 

Expertness was thus a thing unheard of in many com- 
munities because society did not demand enough of cer- 
tain products to justify any one spending his entire time 
in producing them. Lack of expertness resulted in small 
quantity and inferior quality production. In other words, 
goods or wealth could not be produced in large quantities. 
Another reason for this condition was the universal use 
of hand tools and machinery. Muscular effort definitely 
circumscribes results. No great quantity or quality pro- 
duction of wealth could have been produced on the 
foundations — hand tools and non-specialization. The 
wonderful present economic welfare of the people in the 
civilized world is due for the most part to the alteration 
of these conditions of production, by means of the dis- 
covery of a new and great motive power, viz., steam. 

With the invention of the steam engine about one hun- 
dred and fifty years ago and its many practical applica- 
tions of recent years, is bound up a great revolution in 
the methods of producing and transporting goods. 
People who formerly spun and wove in their homes or in 
small shops under the supervision of a neighbor, were 
now brought together in great numbers under one roof 
called a factory. Each person was set at a single ma- 
chine where he performed a single operation. Specializa- 
tion was being realized. Along with the much larger 
production of goods went the development of steam rail- 
ways which enabled the exchange of goods between com- 
munities, thereby widening the market, i. e., the demand. 
With the ever increasing facilities of transportation and 



4 RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 

communication, people were enabled to specialize in one 
occupation and receive from elsewhere the many neces- 
sities that they formerly produced themselves. 

As a direct result of the introduction of specialized 
and mechanical processes, production increased tremend- 
ously, with less hours of work per day. Hours of work 
fell from fourteen to twelve, then ten, then nine, while 
at present there are many industries running on an eight- 
hour day. Recently a movement has started among 
British labor calling for a six-hour day. This remark- 
able reduction in working hours has given the working 
man leisure hours unknown before the last century; and 
it has tremendously stimulated the production of luxuries 
to give pleasure during the free hours. These luxuries 
soon came to be looked upon as necessities that could not 
be dispensed with without severe hardship. Thus a new 
standard of living arose which included many things 
formerly unheard of. The great definiteness of these 
comparatively new demands has acted like a stimulant to 
industry and has opened up possibilities for production 
undreamed of even fifty years ago. 

As regards the increased quantity production resulting 
from the introduction of machine processes, it must be 
said that not only did hours of labor diminish as produc- 
tion increased but likewise the total number of laborers 
employed in the industries affected. As a remarkable 
illustration of this fact is the production of yarn. If 
the present yearly production of yarn was produced un- 
der the old-fashioned hand methods, it would take one 
hundred billion women spinning ten hours per day. 
When it is considered that there are only one billion 
eight hundred million people in the world, the signifi- 
cance of this illustration is seen. Needless to say, per- 



MODERN DEVELOPMENTS 5 

haps, this great quantity production, with less labor, has 
reduced the price of clothing, house furnishings and other 
articles many thousand fold. The low price of the goods 
on the retailer's shelves Is largely due to the steam en- 
gine specialization. 

An interesting phase of this remarkable revolution is 
the attitude that the workers have held toward it. For 
the most part they opposed It. The hand spinners and 
weavers who had become quite proficient in their hand 
processes could not see the ultimate value to mankind 
of the power spindles and looms, but realized only the 
immediate handicap under which they were placed. 
Children could tend the new machines as proficiently as 
could the older spinners and weavers, and naturally the 
latter were Incensed at the new inventions. Their feel- 
ing of antagonism took the popular form of burning fac- 
tories and smashing machinery wherever this was possible. 
Only momentarily, however, was progress stopped by 
these abortions. The new machine processes and the in- 
creased specialization produced more goods of a greater 
variety and at a much lower cost, and because of these 
all-important results society supported and protected the 
new processes until they have become a commonplace 
part of our industrial life. No one at present, not even 
the workers themselves, would think for a moment of 
going back to hand production. 

Such is the path of progress. Opposition has usually 
confronted the adoption of new and more eflicient 
methods of production or more advanced scientific ideas. 
When Galileo declared the earth was round even his 
scientific contemporaries were astounded that one could 
be so bold as to attack such a well established doctrine 
that the earth was flat. His life was threatened unless 



6 RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 

he retracted his bold assertion, and in the face of such 
opposition he temporarily retracted his claim. 

Opposition to progressive change, showing the in- 
flexibility of the minds of large classes of people, is 
further illustrated by the mobbing and beating of Jac- 
quard in Lyons, France, in 1808. Embroidering had 
been done by hand since the world began and people be- 
lieved that it must always be done thus. Jacquard de- 
veloped a wonderful complicated loom that permitted 
mechanical production of this work. People's minds 
could not accommodate themselves to the radical change; 
they could not understand the bold nature who could so 
set aside precedent and alter a universal method of doing 
things. But England grasped the idea that France dis- 
carded and today a statue of Jacquard stands in Lyons 
on the spot where this great inventor was persecuted over 

a century ago. 

Another important result of the industrial revolution 
was the division of society into capitalists, landlords, 
managers and laborers. Previous to the industrial revo- 
lution, when each family was almost self-sufficing, eaA 
person combined these four functions in himself. With 
the enlargement of industry, however. It became neces- 
sary for more intense specialization of these functions. 
For example, it was found that the most efficient manager 
could be produced only If all of one's time was spent in 
solving managerial problems. People now had to choose 
which function they were qualified by nature or training 
to perform and then spend their entire time becoming 
experts In their field. 

Thus we find society split up Into four factors, all 
working toward a common end, viz., the production and 
distribution of goods at the least cost. No factor can 



MODERN DEVELOPMENTS 7 

produce goods independently of the others. They are all 
necessary for large scale machine production and are 
^ all interdependent. Oftentimes this fact is not clearly 
seen by all people, resulting in the temporary disarrange- 
ment of industry. Sometimes labor thinks itself the all- 
important factor, and discontent and disturbances result. 
Cooperative stores and factories are initiated by laborers 
who have magnified their own importance in the industrial 
and commercial processes, and minimized the value of 
capital and management. Usually in this country such 
movements have met with disaster because of lack of 
capital and poor management, and workers have lost 
their earnings. Through bitter experience many labor- 
ers have learned that management with ability and fore- 
sight is necessary in any business and because of Its rela- 
tive scarcity must be well paid. On the other hand, 
oftentimes capital or management gets the notion that it 
is the all-important factor in production and treats un- 
fairly the labor in its employ. In some cases only by 
governmental action has labor succeeded in forcing capi- 
tal or management to recognize its rights. 

Fortunately, the necessity for specialization of these 
functions and the relative Importance of each In our 
industrial and commercial system, are becoming more 
widely recognized among all classes. Employers are be- 
coming more and more willing to see the employes' side 
of any problem, and vice versa. It is to be hoped that 
greater mutual understanding between all parties In in- 
dustry and commerce will eliminate much of the present 
day antagonism which is the only great handicap to secur- 
ing greater efficiency and lower costs. 

Second in statement, but scarcely inferior in impor- 
tance, is the great revolution in agricultural methods 






8 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



taking place within the last century. Since grain was 
first grown hand methods have been used. The scythe 
and sickle cut the grain, the raking and binding were 
done by hand and the grain was threshed by a hand-swung 
flail. Under such a system much labor was needed for a 
small production and costs were necessarily high. With 
the introduction of mowers, reapers and. binders, stimu- 
lated by the scarcity of help during the Civil War, a new 
era of agriculture was at hand. Less workers on the 
farms could now produce the usual crops large enough to 
take care of this country's demands, as well as a surplus 
for export. An illustration of the tremendous release of 
men for other occupations caused by the introduction of 
agricultural machinery, is seen in wheat production. Be- 
fore 1890, in order to produce the present wheat crop 
( 1 9 1 8 ) it would have taken 1 1 ,000,000 men working ten 
hours a day, while after this date the 191 8 wheat crop 
could have been produced by 500,000 men — a saving of 
the labor of 10,500,000 men on one grain crop alone. If 
all the crops were considered, the saving in labor power 
would be most startling. In the light of these figures the 
*' back to the country " movement appears somewhat ri- 
diculous. If less men can produce enough grain to sat- 
isfy our needs why employ more men? Rather, it is to 
the advantage of the farmer as well as of all society to 
have the men who are released from agriculture by means 
of machinery, migrate to the cities or elsewhere and man- 
ufacture the new luxuries that are increasingly in demand 
as the prosperity of the country population becomes as- 
sured. 

Our farmers adopted agricultural machinery because 
of necessity, but once adopted it has remained; while 
other operations on the farm have gradually been taken 



MODERN DEVELOPMENTS 9 

over by mechanical processes. Open-mindedness, to a 
large extent, is the reason for the ready adoption of these 
labor saving devices. China is still plowing with the 
crooked stick, and efforts to introduce Western machinery 
have been of little avail. Habits of thinking and doing 
have been fixed by too many centuries of unchanging meth- 
ods to be altered in a generation or two. Only by the 
most persistent efforts are backward countries made to 
adopt new ideas and new methods and then it is usually 
accomplished by the example of progressive foreigners. 
The result of new ideas is illustrated no better than in 
agricultural development in the United States; and the 
stagnation and meager production due to Inflexibility of 
mind and inability to change from old to new methods, is 
no more clearly seen than in the production of agricul- 
tural products In the Far East and other backward coun- 
tries and states. 

THE NEW PHILOSOPHY OF RETAIL MERCHANDISING 

Like manufacturing, transportation and agriculture, re- 
tailing has been revolutionized In the last century and a 
half. From time immemorial the retailer, trader or 
shopkeeper has been held In low esteem by his fellowman. 
Throughout English history the unscrupulous cunning of 
the shopkeeper seems to have been a byword. The 
trader was believed to be a man who produced no wealth 
whatsoever, but gained an illegitimate living by adding 
to the price of goods that he received from some one else. 
In other words, he was not economically justified. 
Neither was he socially justified. It was commonly be- 
lieved that he sought to sell goods to the disadvantage 
of the buyer. Caveat emptor (let the buyer beware) 
was the ruling business ethics of the time, but this fact 



lO RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 

did not lessen the suspicion that the customer held to- 
ward the shopkeeper. The buyer was necessarily al- 
ways on his guard when dealing with retailers, and this 
antagonistic attitude of the buying public has only been 
partially dissipated within recent years for reasons that 

will be mentioned. 

The reason for the existence of the shopkeeper not be- 
ing justified economically was a false view of what was 
meant by the *' production of wealth." The Physiocrats 
believed that agriculture was the only productive industry 
from which all other trades and occupations received their 
energy. Later on, it was generally conceded that manu- 
facturing was productive of wealth, but reluctance was 
shown in granting this function to retail merchandising. 
Transportation was held in the same light as retaihng. 
But in the last century it became clear to many people 
that industries or persons were producers of wealth if 
they satisfied some want, i. e., produced some utility. 
It was seen that corn is not " produced " in the complet- 
est meaning of the word until it is in the hands of the con- 
sumer, since the only object of its " production " is to sup- 
ply the demands of consumers. Hence the railroad and 
other transportation agencies must function in the pro- 
duction process and add place utilities to the articles trans- 
ported. Then in order to get the goods into the hands of 
the consumer, specialized agencies must be employed to 
effect a change in ownership of the goods. Exchangers, 
traders or shopkeepers were seen to add ownership 
utilities to goods. So to the fundamental or substance 
utilities added to an article by agriculture, mining or lum- 
bering, are added form utilities by manufacturers, place 
utilities by transportation agencies and ownership utili- 
ties by merchants. 



MODERN DEVELOPMENTS 



II 



4 



^ 



It may seem that such an analysis as this is superfluous, 
but one does not have to go far even today to find strong 
traces of the old fallacy, viz., that the retailer is not 
productive. However it must be said that, for the most 
part, society today justifies the existence of the retailer 
from an economic standpoint. 

Economic justification for the existence of retailers 
came much earlier than did social recognition, the former 
being quite well accepted by the beginning of the last cen- 
tury while the latter can only be said to have come into 
being in the last generation. This applies, for the most 
part, to the United States and some parts of England, 
Germany and France, since the rest of the world with- 
holds social recognition from the retailer even at the 
present time. 

Why has society held a depreciated idea of the retailer 
socially when he was contemporaneously held as a vital 
economic factor in production? This has been true be- 
cause of the methods employed by retailers and because 
of a vicious economic fallacy regarding the nature of ex- 
change. 

The old methods of retailing merchandise followed 
the principle of " charging what the traffic would bear," 
asking different prices for the same article from 



1. e., 



different customers. Today this system is common in 
some parts of Europe and Asia and partially accounts for 
the social position of the shopkeeper. Buying under 
this system developed into a struggle between seller and 
buyer. The two parties were antagonists. The buyer 
was forced to be on the qui vive at all times in order to 
get the best of the bargain, or, If this was Impossible, as 
it usually was, then it devolved upon the customer to ac- 
quire the goods at the least loss to himself. Such meth- 



12 RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 

ods capitalized the weaknesses of the buyers to the gain 
of the sellers. The necessaries of life could only be ex- 
tracted at a fair price from these vendors by means of 
shrewdness, cajolery, threats and higgling. It was only 
natural that society held no honored place for producers 
who secured a living by taking advantage of the weaker 
bargaining ability of others. 

The second reason for this social attitude toward re- 
tailers was the existence, in both the minds of traders and 
customers, of a false idea of the meaning of exchange. 
It was commonly held until the last century that only 
one party to an exchange could be benefited thereby-— 
that one party of necessity must be the loser. This 
theory led to the practice described heretofore. ^ Each 
party endeavored to be the winner at any odds, since it 
was the belief there could be only one. 

Economists gave to the retailer justification for his 
economic existence, but it took many sturdy pioneers in 
retail merchandising to place the retailer of the United 
States on the high social level where he deserves to be, 
and which he is fast attaining. One creator of the new 
era in retail merchandising was John Wanamaker who 
in 1876 adopted the "one price" system in his large 
store the " Grand Depot " in Philadelphia, and thereby 
helped to overthrow the earlier practice of '' bargaining " 
and the vicious economic fallacy that supported it. 

Not only this. He instituted other new merchandising 
methods which, together with progressive methods used 
by merchants in other parts of the country, were to revo- 
lutionize retailing in the United States and abroad, just 
as much as production in this country was given a great 
impetus by the industrial revolution in England. 



MODERN DEVELOPMENTS 



13 



In the first place, no customer was to be strongly urged 
to buy. This meant the elimination of the " barker " 
who was then a familiar sight on the sidewalk before 
every retail store, and it also meant discontinuance of 
the custom among salespeople to " load " a customer 
with as much goods as possible before she could get out 
of the store. 

In the second place, the goods were what they were 
represented — they were genuine. Seconds were marked 
seconds even if they were not obviously recognized as 
such. Caveat emptor had received its first severe blow. 
The burden of recognizing deceit was no longer thrown 
onto the shoulders of the customer. She did not have 
to be on her guard, hence " shopping " became somewhat 
of a pleasure where it had formerly been a combat to be 
dreaded for its possible consequences. 

In the third place, money would be returned if cus- 
tomers were dissatisfied. Competitors of John Wana- 
maker predicted that if all other innovations failed to 
bring about defeat, this particular policy would bring 
disaster. '* The public will swindle your eyes out," they 
said, believing the public dishonest and unfair. Need- 
less to say, the public met this declaration of confidence 
in its integrity with a high resolve to be worthy of it, and 
the success of this policy has been demonstrated by its 
wide adoption since that time. 

In the fourth place, honorable relations must at all 
times exist between buyer and seller regardless of the 
economic or social status of the former. War between 
the two was at an end. Henceforth, it became the func- 
tion of the retailer to cooperate with the customer in 
securing to the latter goods at a fair price rather than 



H 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



competing with her with the aim of trying to get the best 
of her. The interests of buyer and seller were recog- 
nized as mutual. 

The struggle that this and other advocates of the new 
philosophy of retail merchandising underwent with their 
competitors is a story in and of itself. Mankind has 
always scoffed at the inventor, whether of things or ideas, 
and men in 1876 were no exce{ition. Some merchants 
even attempted to pass laws to eliminate what they con- 
sidered "unfair'* competition; as the progress of others 
in all ages has appeared *' unfair " to those less capable 
of achievement. Similar indeed was the attitude of tex- 
tile workers towards the introduction of power looms 
in England during the industrial revolution, when the 
new power machinery was smashed and factories de- 
stroyed. But like all revolutions that introduce better 
and more efficient methods of producing wealth, the in- 
dustrial and retail revolutions were productive of perma- 
nent results. No one thinks of the far-reaching effects 
of the present methods of retailing because they have 
become common, but to these must be attributed the pres- 
ent social status of the retailer. Confidence of the pub- 
lic in those with whom they have business dealings is 
necessarily a plant of slow growth, not only because of 
tradition but because of the frailty of human nature. 
Steady observance of the methods adopted by Wana- 
maker. Field and other progressive merchants is the only 
sure means of securing efficient merchandising from the 
standpoint not only of the public but the merchant as 
well, besides placing retailing on a social equality with 
the other professions. 

In this revolution of retailing methods some people 
have seen a new control established which the facts do not 



MODERN DEVELOPMENTS 



15 



justify. It is the belief of many that competition has 
miserably failed as a selective and controlling factor in 
retail merchandising and must be replaced by coopera- 
tion. Nothing that has transpired in this field would 
warrant such an assumption. Cooperation has not dis- 
placed competition; it has merely supplemented it. 
Recognition on the part of retailers of certain vital char- 
acteristics of human nature, and the energy of leaders to 
enforce this recognition on others, have raised the plane 
of competition and placed it on a new level. Standards 
of competition are now elevated and hedged about with 
new rules which are enforced hy competition. Thus it 
has always been. New Ideas compete with old ones and 
displace them, and are maintained by the energy liber- 
ated by their own activity. More and more the leaders 
in the field of retailing are recognizing the newer and 
more far-reaching demands of the public. Merchants 
are realizing that consumers are demanding experts in 
retailing who know their goods, understand in what situ- 
ations they have the greatest utility and when they are the 
most effective. In other words, progressives in merchan- 
dising methods are objective thinkers and are endeavor- 
ing to give the service such as a higher educated public 
is requiring. Methods and policies adequate to meet the 
new requirements will become the possession of a few, 
and public opinion will enforce the ideas of the few on 
the many who serve the public in the capacity of retail 
merchants. What many of these new requirements are 
will be taken up In the following pages. 

Not only has the attitude of retailers toward custom- 
ers changed in the last generation, but almost within the 
last decade, In the larger towns, retailers have changed 



i6 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



MODERN DEVELOPMENTS 



17 



their attitude toward the community itself; and this 
change in attitude, which is rapidly percolating into the 
smaller towns as well, is pregnant with a new life and 
energy for American communities that cannot be over- 
estimated in its influence on our national life. 

From their very origin, our communities have been 
individualistic in character. That such should be true 
cannot be considered strange when it is realized that 
many of the towns in the Middle West are of still recent 
origin and contain pioneers or their children who have 
succeeded in creating a new world from the bare land 
itself. All the characteristics of self-sufficiency found 
in these world builders are reflected in the worlds they 
have built. Each citizen has tended more or less to live 
unto himself. Each retailer has had a conception of his 
business as a unit separate from that of his competitor 
and from the town that included both. The theory of 
wealth-getting in retailing was known to all and well 
practiced. In short, it amounts to this : " Anything 
that helps my competitor injures me, and anything that 
helps me injures my competitor." 

According to this policy, if one store was more up-to- 
date, had better salespeople and a better organization 
than another, this store would gain by maintaining such 
a situation. Hence, if new methods of store accounting, 
or ideas to further better selling, advertising or window 
decorating, became known to one merchant, he was care- 
ful to profit by them and keep them secret. Each re- 
tailer believed that he could progress further the more 
backward his competitors remained. Each merchant 
tried to climb to success over the dead body of his op- 
ponent. 

Many examples could be given illustrating to what 



extreme lengths this practice has been carried in the Mid- 
dle West. Merchants have closely guarded their meth- 
ods of doing business, their prices (wherever possible), 
their overhead expenses, gross sales, methods of account- 
ing, etc.; competitors have " knocked" each other to cus- 
tomers and friends; enemies have been developed among 
unsuspecting third parties; school-boards and town offi- 
cials have been influenced, and, sad to relate, even the 
church in some cases has become involved. Only to one 
who has made a study of many small communities can the 
results coming from this theory of doing retail business 
have its full meaning. 

That such practices are as foolish and the theory back 
of them as fallacious as the theories and practices of mer- 
chants prior to 1876, no one after a little thought will 
deny. The practice resulting from the belief that the 
backwardness of one merchant was beneficial to other 
merchants has meant much loss to the retailers who be- 
lieved it, to others less guilty and, most of all, to the 
welfare of the community itself. 

This was necessarily true because little community 
progress could result without healthy business activity and 
the latter was fatally throttled at its very inception by a 
policy that effectively maintained and aided retail ineffi- 
ciency. Towns received the reputation of being '' dead " 
and the existence of even one progressive retailer in each 
line could not successfully change public opinion. Peo- 
ple from the surrounding country likely as not got into 
the unprogressive stores, were not treated kindly or failed 
to find the goods they desired and went over to the mail 
order house where courtesy is a slogan and variety of 
goods and reasonable price a reality. Thus trade left 
town and failed to come into town because of a false 



i8 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



theory regarding the relation of the retailer to his com- 
petitors and the community. 

A new realization of the retailer's function in the 
community is rapidly being realized. This is evidenced 
by the number of so-called community clubs that are now 
being organized, where formerly the commercial club 
seemed to be considered adequate to deal with business 
problems. The former organizations are attempting to 
promulgate new methods of merchandising among back- 
ward merchants in the community; to study defective 
business methods in use and gather information as to their 
remedy; to conduct short courses for business men where 
so-called business '* secrets '' can become the property of 
all and where experts in merchandising can tell practition- 
ers what they know; and finally to place the farmer on the 
same basis as the business man and make him realize 
that he is a part of the community and not outside of it. 
In these meetings competitors rub elbows, gather infor- 
mation that is mutually helpful and learn to know one 
another as men — not as enemies (competitors). 

Through such and similar efforts the old business fal- 
lacies are being relegated to the background. It is being 
realized that a policy which helps to keep any producers 
in the community in a backward position is injuring the 
community, and that anything that injures the community 
is, in the long run, a bad thing for every one, notwith- 
standing the fact that some merchants may possibly be 
immediately benefited. The community view has been 
broadened, and the business view has had to develop itself 
contemporaneously. 

This widening of business vision, this endeavor of re- 
tailers to cooperate in order to raise the plane of compe- 
tition, is a development that is going on at the present 



MODERN DEVELOPMENTS 



19 



time. Only the more progressive towns in the more 
progressive states have been affected, but the movement 
must eventually become universal, resulting in a new life 
for our towns and a rejuvenation of our country districts. 

THE MODERN EFFICIENCY MOVEMENT 

As already indicated, much has been done in the last 
one hundred and fifty years to develop machine processes. 
In fact it is no exaggeration to say that more has been 
done in the last century and a half in the development of 
machine production than was done in the previous seven 
thousand years. Progress has been made in this field be- 
cause effort has continuously been directed toward this 
direction, and it is well that this has been done. Never- 
theless, the struggle to perfect machinery in manufactur- 
ing, agriculture, mining and transportation, has tended to 
overemphasize the mechanical element in industry as 
compared to another element not so tangible but equally 
important. This element is human nature. 

Only within the last two decades has anything of im- 
portance been done toward the development of this vast 
field, and as yet only a beginning has been made. Yet 
from the results already accomplished it may not be too 
much to say that with a century and a half of irrigation 
and development this field will exhibit possibilities as yet 
undreamed of. At any rate, no matter what the future 
may hold in store for those industries developing and re- 
fining human processes, what has already been done is 
most worthy of notice. In this brief discussion space 
permits mention of only three of the most prominent 
achievements in. age-old occupations. 

Bricklaying, every one will concede, is one of the oldest 
occupations. The earliest buildings were made of brick, 



20 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



MODERN DEVELOPMENTS 



21 



and pictures of bricklaying are found in the ruins of 
Egypt. To set about improving the human processes in 
this field seemed a waste of time to many people, and es- 
pecially to the bricklayers themselves who had learned 
to lay brick as tradition dictated. It had been done in 
a certain way for many centuries so why should a change 
be made, said the workers. In reality this reason, al- 
though it sounded plausible to some, was no reason at 
all. Yet this kind of argument has always prevented 
change and hindered progress and at present is the great- 
est foe to the improvement of human processes. As 
workers have always opposed the introduction of machine 
processes, so they have always opposed the changing of 
human processes; and progress has only been effected 
in some countries because the leaders have been open- 
minded enough to give new ideas a trial. Wherever 
these trials have been rewarded with success the masses 
have reluctantly adopted the new methods on being con- 
vinced of their desirability; but obviously in those coun- 
tries where new ideas will not be put on trial no adoption 
of them can ever come. In such a condition is China. 

Notwithstanding the opposition of the bricklayers, 
bricklaying underwent an intensive study. The laying 
of bricks was watched by keen observers and was de- 
liberated on as intently as any subtle ideas in religion or 
philosophy have been. To make a long story short, it 
was found that in laying one brick an average of sixteen 
movements were made. Using the more skilled and in- 
telligent workmen as subjects for experiments, it was 
found that the average number of movements in laying 
one brick could be reduced to five — an increase in effi- 
ciency of over three hundred per cent. 

To many it would seem that this remarkable achieve- 



i 



,;i 



-1 



ment would immediately revolutionize bricklaying in 
the United States. Unfortunately, because of mankind's 
tendency to persist in doing things as they have been ac- 
customed to do them, such is not the case. Gradually, 
however, this improvement in human process will widen 
its influence and set the standards for bricklaying. 

When this much desired consummation is a fact the 
significance of its effects can scarcely be estimated. If 
brick buildings can be built at one-half or even one-third 
of the former labor cost, the price of such buildings must 
fall. If such buildings are cheaper, rents fall, overhead 
expenses in retail stores become less, hence goods can be 
sold at a lower price. Consumers (and all people are 
consumers, including the bricklayers themselves) would 
benefit by such a change in hand processes, while the 
probabilities are that the wages of bricklayers would 
be higher. This seems likely because those bricklayers 
capable of organizing their work on the basis of the 
new processes would be limited in supply but greatly in 
demand. Those bricklayers who could not adapt them- 
selves to the new conditions would obviously have to 
seek a new trade for which they were better adapted. 
This necessity, however, could result in only temporary 
hardship, since their productivity in work for which they 
were better adapted would be greater and hence their 
wages would be higher. It is a fundamental principle of 
economics that everybody ultimately benefits because of 
the introduction into industry or commerce of labor sav- 
ing processes. Only immediately does the opposite some- 
times appear to be true. 

A second example of increasing the efficiency of the 
human element is seen in the experiments conducted by 
F. W. Taylor among the pig iron carriers at the Bethle- 



22 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



MODERN DEVELOPMENTS 



23 



hem Steel Works. The work of these laborers consisted 
of picking up iron pigs from piles and carrying them to 
flat cars where they were deposited in stacks. Each la- 
borer could load an average of 16 tons per day. After 
three years of observing this human process at work, Mr. 
Taylor devised more scientific handling which increased 
the average man's carrying capacity per day to 40 tons. 
Formerly the laborers received $1.15 per day, while after 
the new human processes were worked out the men who 
would follow instructions received $1.85 per day. 
Strange to say, the men who carried 40 tons by means of 
the new scientific methods were less fatigued at the end 
of the day's work than formerly. 

How such startling results were secured can be ascer- 
tained elsewhere.^ In passing, it may be said that rest 
periods were introduced at different times during the day 
so that bodily energy was conserved throughout the en- 
tire day's work. Several important studies in the rela- 
tion of work to fatigue have been made, an investigation 
of which will well repay those interested in this important 
phase of industrial efficiency. There is no doubt that 
this field has been little more than touched in its possibili- 
ties, especially as regards retailing. 

The third illustration of effectively altering old hand 
processes in order to secure increased efficiency is the 
work of shoveling. Most people are willing to admit 
that if such an apparently simple and commonplace op- 
eration as shoveling can be altered along scientific lines, 
most any human process has possibilities for development. 
It is to impress upon the reader this all important fact 
that these instances of scientific development are given. 

By experimenting with different size shovels for differ- 

1 F. W. Taylor " Principles of Scientific Management." 



ent kinds of material, by carefully noting the results se- 
cured in throwing the shovel load different distances, as 
well as observing the manner in which the shovel was 
handled, the efficiency of shovelers was increased three 
hundred per cent. A full account of the manner in which 
these experiments were conducted and the results ob- 
tained can be found elsewhere.^ For the purposes of this 
lesson enough has been said if the reader realizes the 
great revolution that is now going on in human processes. 
That great opportunities for bettering retail selling 
methods exist everywhere, very few observers of retail 
conditions will deny. Yet there are many salespeople 
and retailers who have become accustomed to certain 
ways of selling goods and handling customers, which are 
fundamentally wrong, but which are fixed in operation by 
habit and are apparently difficult to get away from. The 
old way is very often thought to be the best way. Expe- 
rience has produced certain methods that have brought 
fair success and there is a feeling of '* let well enough 
alone." 

Needless to say, if old methods were continuously fol- 
lowed regardless of changing conditions, no progress 
could be made. Generation after generation would be- 
come fixed in their thought, and mental and industrial 
stagnation would result. The hope of present day in- 
dustry and commerce is that the leaders, the thinkers, will 
make a careful study of present day retail selling methods 
and change their old ways of doing things whenever these 
old ways are found to be defective or inferior to new 
methods in getting results. The slogan of the business 
world is, "get results," and if the methods described 
in this book are tried and found to be the ** result-getting 
1 Ibid. 



24 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



kind," their justification will be assured. It is only fair 
to them to say that they have already been through the 
crucible of experiment and from practical application have 
been found to be conducive to increased efficiency in sell- 
ing. Many large stores have put the ideas herein de- 
scribed into practice and are realizing increased sales 
therefrom. 

The mechanics of retail stores has been well advanced; 
methods of window display, lighting, heating, store ar- 
rangement, fixtures and all other details of the store 
equipment have been given a great deal of careful thought 
looking toward greater efficiency, and they have reaped 
big returns. As yet, little has been done with the human 
element, the salesperson; and it is with the hope of stimu- 
lating interest and pointing out methods of betterment 
in this important field that this book on salesmanship is 
offered to the public. 



i 



CHAPTER II 
KNOWING THE GOODS 

The present revolution in retailing is the substitution 
of experts for inexperts behind the counter. Specializa- 
tion, spoken of in the previous chapter, is of little value 
to society unless expcrtness results wherever it is prac- 
ticed. Especially in the department store is specializa- 
tion carried to a fine degree. Salespeople sell only in one 
department; they handle at the most only a few lines of 
goods; they have the opportunity to know all about the 
things that they are handling every day. If they are 
inexpert, society has lost because of the opportunity that 
has not been utilized. 

Not only because of the opportunity offered for special- 
ization should salespeople be experts. Another reason 
is the ever increasing complexity of goods as regards 
their quality and construction. Not long ago it was pos- 
sible for the customer to be an expert buyer and hence 
there was no great necessity to have expert sellers. With 
the manufacture of numberless products and substitutes 
unheard of a few years ago, together with trade names 
whose number is legion, the possibility of the customer 
knowing what is in the goods and how they are made is 
fast disappearing. Many examples to illustrate this fact 
could be given. One case is that of congoleum. The 
name does not describe the goods and the makeup of the 
latter is unknown to many people. That it is merely tar 

25 



26 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



paper painted on both sides, some customers would be sur- 
prised to know. Yet knowledge of this fact would not 
reduce sales, because the wearing qualities of this product 
are well known. Linoleum is now made with cork, wood 
fiber or rag fiber filling. Yet linoleum is only linoleum to 
some customers. Again, fiber silks are becoming so nu- 
merous and are made up in so many kinds of goods that 
the customer is lost in the rapidity of change and the com- 
plexity of construction. Leathers can only be distin- 
guished by an expert and that expert cannot be the aver- 
age customer. More and more the latter is seeking out 
those stores where she can trust the salespeople to know 
what they are selling. If neither the salesperson nor the 
customer know the composition of the goods much op- 
portunity for dissatisfaction arises. It is to prevent dis- 
satisfaction that expertness in selling is advocated. 

Not only do changing conditions make it imperative 
that the salesperson become an expert in her field, but 
they likewise make it necessary for the salesperson to be 
an adviser. The stores that can give expert advice are 
the stores that will have a big following in the future. 
As an example of the need for this service is a case called 
to the attention of the writer a short time ago in a men's 
furnishings store. The salesperson tactfully explained to 
a well dressed young man the correct way to tie a four-in- 
hand tie. He likewise explained how to match ties with 
shirts and shirts with suits. The advice was given in 
such a clever way that the customer was delighted with 
his purchase because he knew why it was sold him, while 
his respect for the store was distinctly heightened. 

Willingness to advise should never exist without abil- 
ity to advise, as is indicated by the case of the inexpert 
salesperson who offered a stout woman a shirtwaist with 



KNOWING THE GOODS 



27 



horizontal stripes. If expert advice had been given to 
customers, many of the absurdities in dress and clash of 
color designs which are seen on the streets every day 
would not be in evidence. A study of harmony of colors 
and fitness of dress to different personalities would not 
only yield big returns to the salespeople making it, but 
it would yield a pleasure of accomplishment the value of 
which could not be accurately measured in terms of money. 
Not only does dress offer a large field for such a study 
but also household decoration and other lines. 

The first step toward becoming an expert in retail 
selling is knowledge of the goods. This knowledge is 
necessary for four reasons, the chief of which has for the 
most part been overlooked in the books on retail sales- 
manship and in retail store educational work. It is a 
purely selfish reason, which fact may be in its favor 
since most of our actions are based on selfish motives. 
The first reason why a salesperson should know all about 
the goods is because such knowledge takes the drudgery 
out of work. So long as work is irksome and monoton- 
ous little progress can be made. The most successful in 
any field of endeavor are those who have the ability to 
make their work play; those who see the significance of 
their work in present day industry; salespeople who love 
their goods because they know their history and the dif- 
ficulties experienced in getting them before the public. 
To know about anything worth while is to become en- 
thusiastic about it. Enthusiasm is the white heat of con- 
viction and without it the customer cannot be convinced. 
Selling without enthusiasm is selling under a handicap. 
Yet this invaluable quality of salespeople can only be 
secured through knowing all about the goods they are 
handling. 



28 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



KNOWING THE GOODS 



29 



No one ever became enthusiastic about something re- 
garding which little or nothing was known. Is the 
reader enthusiastic about Persia? Certainly not unless 
its wonderful accomplishments and achievements are 
fully realized. To what extent is one enthusiastic about 
the great Theodore Roosevelt ? Only to the degree that 
one knows him from reading his books or reading about 
him. The reading of his biography would make most 
people enthusiastic for this typical American. Does one's 
heart beat a little faster when the Stars and Stripes are 
unfurled? Not unless It is known for what this emblem 
stands and to what victories it has led our troops. One 
who has read United States history usually has a much 
more intense interest In the United States. 

Not only does what has been said apply to countries 
and men, but it applies equally to commodities for sale. 
Is the salesperson vitally interested in the beautiful silks 
that she is handling every day? She is interested only 
to the extent of her knowledge. To know how silk was 
first^ produced by the Chinese and the secret of its pro- 
duction kept from western Europe for five thousand years; 
how Justinian, Emperor of Rome, Induced two monks to 
go to China and while there, under penalty of death If 
their purpose became known, ascertain the process of 
making silk and bring back In their hollow bamboo canes 
several hundred of the silk-worm eggs; how these eggs 
stolen from the Chinese were the beginning of the silk in- 
dustry In Europe; and how later the United States learned 
all that Europe knew about producing silks and improved 
upon them, becoming at present the greatest producer 
of silks in the world; to know all this fascinating history 
and much more is to create a foundation for Interest in 
what one is selling that will later develop into enthusi- 



asm and become the background of a convincing sales- 
talk. 

Or, in selling corsets, it might be interesting to know 
that this piece of wearing apparel was known and in use 
as far back as the time of Cleopatra (69-30 B. c), while 
even in Homer's time woman had begun to learn the 
art of emphasizing the pleasing outlines of her figure; 
that after Caesar's time (100-44 B.C.) for twelve cen- 
turies the evolution of the corset lagged, only a sort of 
tightly wound bandage being used; that in the 12th Cen- 
tury, under the reign of Louis VI of France, the " natural 
figure " notion was discarded and an arrangement re- 
sembling the modern corset appeared, only it was worn 
outside the dress; that during the next three centuries 
corset wearing became such a fad that even men wore 
them; that in the 15th Century wooden corsets came into 
vogue giving the wearer a tapering appearance from the 
shoulders to the waist; that during the reign of Catherine 
de Medici of France, no woman in her court could find 
favor in her eyes whose waist measure exceeded thirteen 
inches; that in order to reduce the waist measure to this 
figure corsets were laced by serving men while in some 
cases the figure was placed in a steel cage or corset frame 
which held the victim's body in a vise-like and perfectly 
rigid grip; that the death rate Increased among the 
women due to this custom, and finally, Henry IV of France 
stamped out the injurious fashion by an imperial order. 
Nevertheless, the order was evaded by wearing steels in 
the sides of dresses and after the death of Henry IV the 
practice of wearing corsets broke out In real earnest and 
became general among the poorer classes as well as 
among the nobility and wealthy. Fortunately the cor- 
set has never been developed back into such extreme lines 



-' A-^c* i. *^. J 



30 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



as existed during the reign of Catherine de Medici. How 
It has changed from year to year and evolved until the 
present time is interesting. The salesperson who sells 
anything, no matter what it is, and does not know its his- 
tory, is overlooking one of the most vital elements in 
making her enthusiastic over what she is daily handling; 
and such ignorance is preventing her from becoming an 
expert in her line. 

Every article has a history. Shoes, felt, celluloid, um- 
brellas, stockings, hats, pins, shovels, carpets, furniture, 
stoves, musical instruments, underwear, jewelry, station- 
ery, and many more commodities of everyday consump- 
tion have a story connected with them. Not to know 
this story is to be an isolated link in the chain of the 
productive process. But, on the other hand, to see the 
past of an article is often the only clear way to compre- 
hend its present and future. At any rate, enthusiasm 
can only flourish in the soil of knowledge, and the history 
of any article is a certain kind of knowledge. 

Often the history of a commodity discloses a senti- 
mental value which, if communicated to the customer, en- 
hances the real value of the article. For instance, the 
design of oriental rugs is the expression of some senti- 
ment of the weaver. To know the nature of this senti- 
ment is to see something in the rug that otherwise would 
remain unknown. In other words, it is a different rug 
after its design has been explained and hence it is more 
valuable. If the rug is made more valuable, customers 
will more readily buy and be willing to pay higher prices. 
It must be remembered that customers do not buy goods; 
they buy qualities — what they see in goods. Linens, 
tapestries, furniture and many other articles have a senti- 



KNOWING THE GOODS 



31 



mental value. This value should be capitalized in sales 

talks. 

The second reason for the necessity of knowing all 
about the goods one is selling is that such knowledge 
creates self-confidence in the salesperson, which in turn 
is transmitted to the customer and reflected in the latter's 
confidence in the salesperson and her goods. All busi- 
ness relationships are based on confidence, and anything 
that tends to build up this invaluable asset should be en- 
couraged and developed. 

Knowledge necessary to attain this result does not in- 
clude merely the history and sentimental value of the 
goods but also their purpose, construction, style and fin- 
ish. With all this information in the background of one's 
mind, a certain confidence in one's ability to sell is se- 
cured that instantly is reflected in the salesperson's atti- 
tude and is recognized by customers. 

On asking a shoe salesperson why she did not know 
about the construction of shoes, she replied, " What's the 
use? Nobody ever asks those questions anyway." Un- 
fortunately this attitude among salespeople is only too 
common. Thev seem to think that because no one asks 
for this knowledge there is no use acquiring it. It would 
be just as sensible to say, *' What is the value of being well 
bred? No one ever asks me whether I am or not." 
The point is that people know whether or not people are 
well bred without asking them; and for the same reason 
they know whether a salesperson knows all about her 
goods or whether a few superficial facts constitute her 
entire knowledge. And why do people know? Because 
they can see. A salesperson with a wide knowledge of 
her goods acts differently and looks differently from one 
with a superficial knowledge. Knowing about anything 



32 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



reacts in a subtle way on the personality and leaves its 
impress. No doubt the reader has sometimes felt while 
buymg that a certain salesperson could answer any ques- 
tion that might be asked. Perhaps you did not ask more 
than one or two questions and perhaps much knowledge 
was not volunteered because It was felt that you did not 
desire it, but the point to be noted Is, you had confidence 
In the salesperson and admired her. 

Telling all that one knows about the goods is not sales- 
manship. Salesmanship is telling what the customer 
wants to know. Anything more than this is superfluous. 
The salesperson may say, " How can one tell when the 
customer has secured all she wants to know? " The an- 
swer is by watching her closely for signs of uneasiness. 
So long as a customer is Interested she shows It, and when 
she Is not, such fact Is equally evident. It should be re- 
membered that many a sale has been lost because of too 
much talk. How to regulate tht length of one's sales 
talk to meet the Individual peculiarities of different cus- 
tomers is taken up more fully in a later chapter.^ 

The third reason why a salesperson should know all 
about the goods is because the more knowledge pos- 
sessed, the easier it is to give information if It is called 
for. Many an embarrassing situation never would have 
occurred if the salesperson had known her goods, while 
ill-will toward the store has often resulted from inability 
to explain the " why " of the merchandise. Recently a 
woman came into a dry goods store and picked up some 
piece goods. " Is this all linen? " she asked. '' I think 
it is," replied the salesperson. '' Don't you know? " In- 
quired the customer, irritably. The salesperson had 
to confess her Ignorance, whereupon the customer an- 

1 Chap. V. 



KNOWING THE GOODS 



33 






grily left the store. This one instance of inefficiency and 
Incapacity to sell service as well as goods lost this store 
three customers, this lady and two of her friends. 

Hundreds of cases are known to the writer where dis- 
gusted and dissatisfied customers have been manufactured 
by stores employing salespeople Ignorant of the goods 
they were selling. Suffice it to give an Instance or two 
in addition to the one already given. A customer was 
looking at two pairs of gloves; one was $2.00 the other 
$2.50. They looked so much alike that the customer 
was at a loss to know the reason for the difference in 
price, and since the salesperson did not volunteer this 
information the customer inquired, " Why Is one pair 
higher priced than the other?" The salesperson did 
some intensive thinking for a few seconds, while resting 
first on one foot then on the other. Finally, her face 
lit up as her mind conjured a reason, and she answered, 
" I guess It is because they are marked that way." Per- 
haps most customers should have been satisfied with such 
a logical and comprehensive answer but this customer was 
not. She lost confidence in the store and even went so 
far as to tell her friends that this store was dishonest, 
that It was selling the same article at two different prices. 
The loss to this store resulting from the ignorance of the 
salesperson would easily have paid for a liberal course 
of instruction in salesmanship for the entire store force. 

The writer had an experience similar to the one just 
noted when he asked a piano dealer why the tone of a 
certain piano was much clearer than that of another one. 
The retailer replied, "That piano ought to be better; 
it's higher priced." He did not tell why the tone was 
better. The price evidently could not make the tone, but 
he apparently did not realize that all-important fact. 



*ma-. 



34 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



KNOWING THE GOODS 



35 



I! 



I 

I! 



The last two instances brings us to an important prin- 
ciple in selling. It is easier to sell a high priced article 
if a reason is given for the pricey than it is to sell a low 
priced article if no reason for the price is given. Many 
cases could be given to substantiate this principle. Peo- 
ple are willing to pay higher prices for goods if they 
know that they are getting greater value. Thus, if the 
salesperson selling gloves had explained that the leather 
in the higher priced gloves had been put through a spe- 
cial process of tanning, utilizing eggs, alum, flour and 
other articles, which made the leather more flexible and 
durable; and if she had explained that they were hand 
sewed instead of machine stitched, very few people would 
have hesitated to buy the higher priced article. But 
without a reason people prefer not to pay high prices. 

The great opportunity today in most stores is not so 
much to sell more goods to each person, or to secure 
more customers, but it is to sell higher priced goods to 
the present clientele. A larger volume of sales is more 
desirable from the store's standpoint than is a greater 
number of sales, while from the standpoint of the cus- 
tomer greater satisfaction usually results from the pur- 
chase of more durable goods. 

That this is true becomes apparent after a little re- 
flection. During the sale the price looms large and a 
high grade of salesmanship is required to minimize its 
importance and make prominent the quality element. 
But unless this Is done immediate peace of mind is pur- 
chased at the expense of future satisfactions. After the 
merchandise has been used awhile the price paid loses 
its significance, and other factors such as quality and 
ability to serve come into prominence. If the merchan- 
dise is satisfactory in every way the customer is pleased 



and the price is forgotten. But if the goods do not give 
satisfactory service they are condemned and the store 
that sold them ; and in this case also the price is a matter 
of the past and does not figure to any extent in tempering 
condemnation. In other words, if an article satisfies com- 
pletely a customer's needs the latter will not reason that 
it is doing no more than it should do because a high 
price was paid for it. She will praise the store for giving 
her something good. On the other hand, if an article 
does not come up to expectations the customer will not 
realize that the price paid was low. She will condemn 
it and hold ill will toward the store that sold it. Present 
satisfactions are more vivid than the former feeling of 
reluctance to pay a high price, while present dissatisfac- 
tions more than outweigh any peace of mind that may 
have been secured previously on account of the unformid- 
able appearance of the price factor. Lasting satisfac- 
tions should be sold, not merely immediate composure. 

To be able to answer all questions promptly, concisely 
and yet thoroughly, results from knowing all about the 
goods. Not more than one customer in ten or perhaps 
not more than one in fifty will ask intricate questions 
about construction, etc., but the time spent in acquiring 
knowledge is indeed well spent if it enables adequate and 
satisfying answers to be given to those who do call for 
them. For it must always be remembered that it is 
usually not only one customer that is driven away when 
dissatisfaction with the salesperson's service arises, but 
often many. There is no end to the harm that may re- 
sult from the lack of a horseshoe nail. 

The fourth reason for the need of intimate stock 
knowledge is to provide material for the sales talk and 
especially to insure " clinchers " for the closing of the 



36 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



sale. In observing retail selling the writer has often seen 
the salesperson reach for the price tag and then lean back 
waiting for the customer to form a buying judgment. 
Price is always brought to the front when selling points 
, are lacking. However, if salespeople would reflect on 
the reasons for the failure to purchase they would bump 
against the fact that price means nothing in and of itself. 
Only when reasons for price are given is the statement 
of price effective. 

Likewise, if the workings of the human mind were un- 
derstood much of the present laxity would disappear. 
The human mind must be led through four distinct stages 
before any sale can be made: the attention of the cus- 
tomer must be secured, her interest aroused, a desire for 
the article created, and finally, these three must be crys- 
tallized into resolve — decision to buy. When the goods 
are first shown it cannot be said that more than the at- 
tention of the customer has been secured. Her mind 
cannot pass through the three remaining stages unless 
it is led and directed through them. Merely stating the 
price is certainly doing no more than to arouse some in- 
terest in the article. To create desire and secure resolve 
to buy requires a selling talk carefully worked out and 
cumulative in its effect. How salespeople expect the 
human mind to form a resolve without reasons for such 
a resolve is one of the mysteries of present day methods 
of retail selling. " Waiting for customers to buy " is 
too common a practice in stores. Perhaps it would be 
more accurate to say that customers only too often 
" wait " to get some information on which they can base 
a logical buying judgment. If they do buy without re- 
ceiving this information it is usually because they have 
sold themselves, i. e., in spite of the salesperson. In 



"-■— *^'^-^_- 



KNOWING THE GOODS 



37 



such cases the store employe cannot accurately be called 
a salesperson but an " order-taker." She has taken an 
order for goods which the customer sorely desired (or 
they would not have been purchased) but she has not sold 
them. Order-takers are relatively common and there- 
fore command only low wages, while salespeople (i. e., 
those who induce or persuade people to buy goods because 
of information given) are scarce and therefore are ex- 
tremely valuable. 

Lack of knowledge of goods is often evidenced by the 
excessive use of certain terms such as " nifty," " swell," 
" classy," " great," " fine," or by the use of superlatives. 
Usually these are thrown at the buyer of ready-to-wear 
clothing. Because of their commonplace character and 
lack of definiteness they make no impression on the cus- 
tomer unless it be an unfavorable one. Most store man- 
agers are seeking out all sorts of ways of making their 
store distinctive, yet strange to say they permit the use 
of sales language that has unfortunately become universal 
in its usage and meaningless in its application. 

The use of such terms or superlatives not only indicates 
lack of definite information about the goods but it also 
denotes lack of a vocabulary. Where this is the case a 
study of the dictionary will produce remarkable results. 
Equivalents of common terms will be found intelligible 
and practical for use in sales talks. The newness and 
freshness of the salesperson's language will immediately 
attract the customer's attention and convey correctly and 
forcefully the ideas which they represent. A great op- 
portunity for increasing selling efficiency lies in improv- 
ing the vocabulary of the sales talk and discarding dead 
words that have long since ceased to convey ideas. To 
allow these formerly useful but now out-of-date convey- 



38 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



f 



ances of ideas to persist is as ridiculous as to ride in ox- 
carts instead of in automobiles. Ideas are of little value 
unless they can be transmitted vigorously and intelligibly 
to the customer. Usually a broad knowledge of the 
goods will provide the vocabulary needed for an effective 
selling talk. 

A final reason why the goods should be described care- 
fully and thoroughly (unless the customer shows impa- 
tience) is because people do not see what they look af 
they only see that which is pointed out to them. There is 
no more important truth applicable to retailing The 
average salesperson takes too much for granted It is as 
sumed that when the customer is looking at the goods the 
latter sees what it is intended she should. 6nly too often 
this IS not true. The customer overlooks the important 
elements of value that the salesperson takes for granted 
are obvious, and her mind rests on objections that prevent 
her from buying. A decision is made independently of 
the salesperson when it should only have been made with 
ner help. 

In order to confirm this Important principle, the writer 
has carried on some experiments with customers in order 
to ascertain the number and strength of the impressions 
made on them when looking at goods. The number and 
strength of impressions made on different people by any 
article varies widely. Some people are keen observers 
and often see detail that escapes the view of others. 
Very few people, perhaps no one, sees all the important 
aspects of anything without having previously studied it 
or without having them pointed out. A sunset holds a 
different meaning for different people because different 
things are seen although only one object is looked at. 
Ihe real sunset with its delicately blending tints can 



KNOWING THE GOODS 



39 



never be seen and appreciated by some people without 
help from the more observant. Looking is not neces- 
sarily seeing. Usually it is not. 

The writer has watched a salesperson try to sell a 
hammer. The hammer was described as being " good," 
" an excellent value,'* as able to " give satisfaction," and 
as being greatly " in demand." It seemed superfluous 
to the salesperson to go further. The customer hesitated 
for some time turning the hammer over in his hands, 
and finally left the store with the statement, " I guess I'll 
see about this later." The salesperson when asked why 
he did not describe the different features of the hammer, 
laughed and said, " What's the use of telling him what 
anybody with half an eye can see ? " The reply that 
many customers only had " quarter eyes," apparently did 
not reach him. 

Because of this incident the writer has been in hun- 
dreds of stores observing sales. In only isolated cases 
have the salespeople realized the principle that people 
do not see what they look at. The features of goods of 
all kinds (furniture, clothing or kitchenware) are sup- 
posed to speak for themselves. Unfortunately for many 
salespeople they fail to do this. The customer sees 
something other than the salesperson sees or wants her 
to see, and features of prime Importance go unobserved. 

The mail order houses realize this principle and de- 
scribe carefully even the smaller and more insignificant 
goods. Regarding a hammer, one company describes 
seven important features: " Full nickel plated, mahog- 
any finished handles. Forged from crucible cast steel. 
Faces and claws are tempered just right. Claws are 
split to a fine point. Handles are made of selected sec- 
ond growth hickory, put In with iron wedges so they will 



40 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



KNOWING THE GOODS 



not become loose." ^ The writer has found customers 
who have looked at hammers that had these features but 
who could not name one of them. Others could not give 
more than two or three. In only exceptional cases did 
all the seven features impress themselves upon the mind 
of the customer and only then because the latter was es- 
pecially acquainted with hammers. 

In looking at hammers in hundreds of stores not one 
has indicated all of the features shown by the mail order 
catalogue description. Salespeople take it for granted 
that if a handle is selected second growth hickory, cus- 
tomers will know it even though it is mahogany finished. 
Why such wisdom should be imputed to the average cus- 
tomer it is difficult to see. But it is not merely the hid- 
den points about an article that customers cannot see; it is 
just as true that the surface features often leave no tan- 
gible impression on the customer's mind. People do not 
see that the " claws are split to a fine point " until they are 
appraised of this fact, even though they may be looking at 
the claws. 

What is here said respecting a simple unpretentious ob- 
ject like a hammer applies to even a greater extent to 
larger and more complicated articles. Yet many sales- 
people overlook this fact. Men's ready-to-wear may 
have many features that would make it appear of greater 
value in the eyes of the customer if these were brought 
to his attention, but which might as well not exist unless 
they are. The mail order houses Indicate carefully all 
the more important details of each garment, and with the 
portrayal of each feature the clothing is increased in 
value in the customer's eyes. 

It may be said by some that the mail order houses 

1 Sears, Roebuck & Co., Catalogue, 1918. 



41 



?■ 



must describe their goods carefully and thoroughly be- 
cause they cannot exhibit them, therefore their situation 
cannot be compared to that of the retailer who places the 
goods before the customer's eyes. The answer to this 
is that goods cannot be sold unless they make an im- 
pression on the mind of the customer. In some cases the 
retailer's goods actually make less of an impression on 
the customer's mind than articles described In the mall 
order catalogue " so one can almost see them," as one 
woman remarked. She might also have said, *' and feel 
them," as indicated by the following taken from the de- 
scription of a mail order house mattress: "This mat- 
tress is smooth, even, springy, as soft and buoyant as a 
feather pillow. Made ,vlth a smooth, even surface, no 
tufts of any kind being used, it fits itself snugly to every 
curve and line of the body. You do not rest upon the 
* high points ' as with the ordinary mattress. This pro- 
vides absolute relaxation for every muscle — producing 
the most restful, refreshing sleep." ^ Such a description 
that makes so vivid the " feel " of the mattress takes the 
place to a large extent of exhibiting the article itself. 
People somehow think that they know the article; and 
they do know it in a very important sense because they 
have rested their bodies on this comfortable mattress — 
in their imagination. But people have to do things in 
their imagination before they can do them in actuality. 
If retail stores could give descriptions of this caliber 
(the kind that describes the article giving pleasure to the 
owner, i. e., the kind that uses Imagination) and at the 
same time show the goods In actuality, their effectiveness 
in selling would be doubled. The mail order houses of 
necessity describe their goods so people can see them; 
1 Ibid. 



42 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



but is it not just as necessary for the retailers to be certain 
that the customer sees the features that they are anxious 
should be seen. Salespeople can never be certain that 
the article they are attempting to sell is really seen as they 
want it to be seen, without working out descriptions that 
will call the customer's attention to the things most de- 
sirable to be noticed. There is no limit to the possibili- 
ties in this direction. The salesperson anxious to get 
results can use effectively the principle used by the mail 
order houses. 



CHAPTER III 
KNOWING THE GOODS {continued) 

Granting all that has been said is true, the salesperson 
may ask what is the best method of procedure in securing 
the knowledge required for selling. 

In the first place, the goods should be tested in both a 
technical and practical manner or if such tests have al- 
ready been made by the manufacturer the salesperson 
should have knowledge of them. A case illustrating what 
is meant by manufacturers' technical tests is that of a 
prominent brand of men's socks. This brand of socks 
togther with five other brands were tested for tensile 
strength by a board of impartial judges representing an 
educational institution. The machine used for this pur- 
pose stretched the socks to the breaking point and a deli- 
cately sensitive needle registered on a dial the resisting 
power or tensile strength of each fabric. On the basis 
of this and other tests this nationally advertised sock was 
given a gold medal at an exposition. In the literature 
sent out by this company to dealers much is made of this 
important technical test, but the writer, although he has 
inquired for this brand of socks for two years over a 
wide territory, has found only one salesperson who has 

referred to it. 

The mail order houses do not overlook such an oppor- 
tunity of augmenting the value of their goods in the cus- 
tomer's estimation. In a recent edition of a mail order 

43 



44 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



catalogue on ready-to-wear clothes,^ the selling talk says 
that the manufacturer " makes many tests — more tests 
than the average maker of men's clothing — to be sure 
the color Is absolutely fast, that the fabric possesses the 
necessary strength to Insure long service and that there 
are no Imperfections In the weave." In another cata- 
logue this same company describes their tester sitting 
beneath a slowly moving roll of their suit fabric, above 
which is a powerful electric light, searching for flaws or 
Imperfections in the material. The mail order houses 
realize the Influence on their customers' minds of the sug- 
gestion of the absolutely reliable nature of their mate- 
rials. 

Most manufacturers have tested their materials and 
are always willing to give the results of their experi- 
ments. In fact, they often send this material to retail- 
ers but It sometimes goes unread because Its value In mak- 
ing sales is not fully realized. Nothing gives a salesper- 
son so much confidence In the goods as to know from ac- 
tual test what the goods will do. The sales talk changes 
from a half-hearted, not fully certain one, to one that 
carries conviction because it has the ring of sincerity in 
it — the glow of enthusiasm. Where technical tests have 
not been made by the manufacturer the salesperson can 
often devise some of her own. Usually, however, this 
is not necessary. 

Practical tests are more easily worked out and used by 
salespeople. Practical tests consist of putting articles 
to the use for which they are Intended and by careful 
observation ascertaining to what degree they justify the 
claims made for them. Cooking utensils lend themselves 
readily to such tests. One of the greatest talking points 

1 Sears, Roebuck & Co., 548K — 6th edition, page 3. 



KNOWING THE GOODS 






45 



for the aluminum griddle is that cakes can be cooked upon 
it without the use of grease. Yet many salespeople could 
not use this selling point in a positive manner, and per- 
haps not at all, simply because they doubt the accuracy 
of the assertion themselves. Practical tests always 
strengthen the selling talk. 

Have men In your community used the brand of razor 
your store Is selling, and do they like It? What reasons 
do they give for desiring it more than some competing 
razor? If these questions could be answered by ques- 
tioning customers who are enthusiastic over their pur- 
chases, a great moral force would be created which would 
carry conviction in future sales talks regarding this article. 

Clothing, furniture, musical Instruments, In fact most 
everything, can undergo a practical test either by the 
salesperson herself or by the customer; but whichever is 
the case, the knowledge gained should be skillfully tabu- 
lated, classified and fitted Into the salesperson's plans for 
selling these goods. Tests of all kinds are valuable not 
so much because they convince the customer but because 
they convince the salesperson. When the latter is really 
convinced about anything the customer is favorably im- 
pressed and often does not take the time to ascertain why. 
It is enough for her that a powerful motive based on 
knowledge lies back of the salesperson's attitude and talk. 

In the second place, an accurate, scientific and valuable 
fund of knowledge respecting any article can be secured 
by making an intensive study of It and classifying the re- 
sults of this study on a card. Any size card may answer 
the purpose but a good practicable size is three by five 
Inches. Each card should be filed away in alphabetical 
order so that it can be promptly found for study or re- 
view. 



46 RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 

The first classification on this card should be a list of 
the senses that the article appeals to. The only en- 
trances to the will power are through the ^wt senses: 
sight, taste, touch, hearing and smelling. Through these 
channels the brain receives impressions. The more the 
impressions and the greater their intensity, the greater 
the likelihood of a sale. Very often a salesperson, not 
realizing this important fact, holds up an article so that 
the customer can see it and after stating the price waits 
for the customer to decide. Only one sense is being ap- 
pealed to, only one channel to the seat of decision is be- 
ing utilized; all the rest are going to waste. Or, a 
salesperson may exhibit an article in poor light or in a 
position that makes it hard for the customer to see it ad- 
equately. While exhibiting the article in this way the 
salesperson may give an interesting sales talk, but prac- 
tically only one sense organ Is functioning, I. e., the ears. 
Now, if in each of these cases instead of appealing merely 
to one of the senses two could be reached, the salesper- 
son's selling efficiency in this respect would Increase one 
hundred per cent. Further, if the salesperson could 
show the goods to the best advantage and give a pleasing 
and effective sales talk, and at the same time encourage 
the customer to handle the article, or wear It if it can 
be worn, a third sense, touch, has been appealed to and 
the salesperson has tripled her selling efficiency. Like- 
wise, if the other senses can be drafted to assist In securing 
the sale, the effectiveness of the sales talk has increased 
tremendously. 

The number of senses that any article Is capable of ap- 
pealing to is by no means always obvious. Much study 
is often needed to ascertain In just what way an article 
can make its appeal to the senses. Merchandise that at 



KNOWING THE GOODS 



47 



I 



first thought might seem capable of appealing to only two 
or three senses, after a careful study can often be found 
to be capable of appealing to four or possibly all of the 
senses. Silks, in the hands of a clever salesperson, can 
be made to " talk." When this Is accomplished while 
a pleasing sales talk is being given, the sense of hearing 
is doubly impressed. Groceries are sometimes made to 
appeal to all the senses. Biting Into a luscious pear in- 
variably makes some sound no matter how much care is 
exercised to prevent it. The sound impression, though 
faint, gives weight to the buying judgment. To have a 
customer smell leathers may reinforce the argument in 
their favor. To " ring " a kettle is to aid the customer 
to make a decision. 

Whether or not, however, taste and smell can be ap- 
pealed to in any particular case, there seems little excuse 
for failure to employ the other three most common senses 
in securing decisions to buy. Not enough salespeople 
allow customers to handle the goods. Present day store 
fixtures are fortunately so arranged that in most cases 
goods are in open display on tables where the customer 
can get her hands on them. There is also much to be 
done in working out the most favorable manner in which 
to show goods. Some pile fabrics do not show up to ad- 
vantage If the light strikes on them in a certain way. 
Certain colors appear to better advantage under a strong 
light, others under a more delicate one. In other words, 
the salesperson should be certain that the customer is 
seeing what it is desirable she should see, and not some- 
thing else. 

The second classification is, like the first one, the re- 
sult of a careful study of an article. It answers the ques- 
tion, What is the article capable of accomplishing? 



48 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



What does it do? This is a more difficult question to 
answer for each individual commodity than is at first 
apparent. In order to test the salesperson's ability to 
give the functions that any article is capable of perform- 
ing, let her sit down with a chair, a pair of shoes, a dia- 
mond ring, or any other article before her and ask her- 
self the question, " What will this article do? '' It will 
be found much more difficult than was supposed to give 
more than the commonplace about each article. The 
value of making such an analysis is illustrated by the fol- 
lowing case. A father was in a jewelry store seeking 
a Christmas gift for his daughter when the salesperson, 
somewhat against the customer's desire, interested him 
in a diamond ring. Finally, however, he swept the ring 
aside with the air of one having made a final decision 
and said, " My daughter has too many of such things 
already," inferring that any more jewelry, no matter 
what its nature, would tend to make his daughter vain. 
After only a second's hesitation the salesperson said, 
" This diamond is the most beautiful and permanent form 
in which you can show your affection for your daughter." 
The father took renewed interest in the ring and after 
two or three more appeals to the parental instinct ^ the 
sale was made. That salesperson had asked herself the 
question, "What will this diamond do?" It is true a 
diamond is capable of making people vain but it has other 
important functions which it is well to know. 

All goods can be taken up in this same manner and the 
results of the intensive study will be surprising. It is by 
no means an easy task. To do any work thoroughly and 
scientifically is not always easy, but it is not the easy way 
that usually produces results. Apparently unknown to 

1 Sec page 71. 



KNOWING THE GOODS 



49 



some, retail selling is as capable of an intensive study as is 
law, medicine or the other professions ; and for those who 
make this study the rewards are even larger than can 
be secured with equal effort in the professions. Four to 
six years of continuous study after graduation from high 
school is the rule rather than the exception for those 
entering law or medicine and in some cases dentistry. 
If a similar period of time was spent in study and labora- 
tory work by those entering retail selling they would be- 
come just as truly experts in their line and would com- 
mand incomes proportionate to their effectiveness. Ex- 
perts in retail selling are greatly in demand but there has 
thus far been no organized, systematic method of sup- 
plying them. Schools and stores in the future will give 
courses of training to meet this demand. 

The third item on the card should tell where the article 
is made and by whom. Oftentimes customers have been 
through factories or know some of the employees, di- 
rectors or officers of establishments, the goods from 
which are before them in the store. A sentimental value 
is thus attached to the goods in addition to that explained 
by the salesperson. Shoes that are made in New Eng- 
land often hold a preference in the customer's mind over 
shoes made elsewhere. Also, furniture made in Grand 
Rapids sometimes seems better to customers than that 
made somewhere else. Whether or not the customer 
has any justification. for her belief is of no consequence. 
Fortunately, it is not the duty of the salesperson to dispel 
all the illusions of the customer. It is her duty to under- 
stand the goods and the customer and sell the former to 
the latter in the most advantageous way to the mutual 
benefit of both parties to the transaction. 

Telling the customer by whom the article is made may 



so 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



have great Influence if this information is given in a 
clever manner, even though the customer has no knowl- 
edge of the manufacturer. The writer evidenced a case 
illustrating this point. A salesperson told the customer, 
with a great deal of deference in her voice, that a cloak 
was made by " The Blank Company, the well known 
manufacturers of New York City." The customer was 
deeply impressed, and not until after the cloak was pur- 
chased did she realize that the name of the company held 
no meaning for her. In the sales talk, however, it fitted 
in as a positive point and suggested acquiescence on the 
part of the customer by being associated with the words 
" well known." In many cases not only the manufac- 
turers' name could be given but also some policy char- 
acteristic of them or some methods peculiar to their use. 
With the deliberative customer this Information can be 
used with especially good effect. This type often de- 
mands an extra amount of knowledge before a decision 
can be made, and such can be given promptly if it has 
been secured, arranged and classified In advance.^ 

The fourth classification should explain how the article 
is made and what it is composed of. Such knowledge is 
valuable for any article. In groceries it Is invaluable but 
only too often lacking. How many grocery salespeople 
could tell how some of our patent breakfast foods like 
Grape Nuts are made. Some people are actually ad- 
verse to buying foods like this because they Imagine there 
is some injurious element concealed In them. It is a fun- 
damental principle of human nature to be suspicious of 
what one does not understand. It would seem to be the 
function of the salesperson to replace suspicion with con- 
fidence by giving the composition of goods and how they 

1 See page 96. 



KNOWING THE GOODS 5 I 

are made. Such material is gladly sent by manufac- 
turers on request, as it is to their interest to have their 
more general processes open and well known. Knowl- 
edge is the only means of killing suspicion. 

To know what some fabrics are made of and how, is a 
liberal education In and of Itself. The process by which 
the beautiful brocades are manufactured is Ingenious 
enough to excite the admiration of any one for the In- 
ventor, Jacquard. How minerals are mixed with silks, 
and how many of our commonest articles are constructed, 
is intensely Interesting and often can be made to appeal 
in this manner to the customer. Too many things In 
the average retail store are mysteries to those who are 
selling them. Only when they are brought Into the world 
of reality by knowing reasons for their peculiar existence, 
are they really "sold" to the salesperson herself; and 
the latter must be *' sold " before the customer will buy. 

In some cases, only by knowing what the goods are 
made of, and by explaining the composition of the article 
to the customer, can the purchase give off lasting satis- 
factions to the buyer. Shoes are an illustration. Sev- 
eral instances have been brought to the writer's attention 
where customers have purchased shoes, expecting leather 
counters, boxing and insoles (having been led to expect 
such a condition by the salesperson), and subsequently 
have been disappointed to find that such was not the 
case. The salesperson In some Instances believed these 
parts of the shoe were leather and rather than lose a 
sale " took a chance " on positively affirming something 
which was by no means certain. By following this policy 
these salespeople were actually dishonest because they 
did not treat the customer fairly.^ That they were not 

1 See page lai. 



52 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



intentionally dishonest is little consolation when custom- 
ers feel that they have not received a square deal. Ig- 
norance is no justification before the law, neither is it 
before the customer. Knowing what an article is made 
of is an absolute necessity for efficient selling. The only 
certain way to make this knowledge effective is to write 
it out and place it on a card with the other information 
about the article. 

In ascertaining how the article is made and its compo- 
sition, it may help the salesperson to be given a mTsthod 
of approach. If the following six sale classifications are 
comprehensively worked out in respect to any article, the 
salesperson will have a good working knowledge of the 
goods. 

First, has the article been through any special processes 
that would add to its value? In the case of the gloves 
referred to elsewhere, it was seen that one pair had gone 
through a special process of tanning that made them more 
durable and flexible and therefore of greater value than 
the gloves that had not had the benefit of this longer and 
more expensive process. Some writing paper has been 
dried by the '' loft process," while other kinds have been 
dried on rollers. The former process having necessi- 
tated more hand work naturally costs more, but the in- 
creased cost not only represents added labor cost but like- 
wise finer texture, greater utility, in other words, greater 
value. 

Many more cases could be given to illustrate the point 
but perhaps enough has been said to indicate the necessity 
of knowing how the product is made. To know how 
things are made is only another way of knowing reasons 
for prices — a most important element in sales talks. To 
be without this information is to grope blindly about the 



lyi^WING THE GOODS 



53 



store looking at goods but not seeing them. For it must 
be emphasized again that people do not necessarily see 
what they look at; they see only those things that their 
education and environment enables them to see. En- 
vironment alone is often dulling to the senses because the 
elements in it become commonplace, hence the necessity 
of invoking education (study of goods) to unearth the 
important characteristics of the stock that would other- 
wise remain unknown. 

Second, has the article been inspected for imperfec- 
tions? The use made of this important point by the 
mail order houses as regards cloth for suits, has already 
been referred to. Underwear, hosiery, shirts, dress 
goods, furniture, lace, leather goods and many other 
articles are often carefully inspected by manufacturers be- 
fore they leave the factory. Such inspection adds value 
to the product, but the customer cannot see this im- 
portant element of value unless it is specifically brought 
to her attention. Value must be conceived of as a com- 
posite thing including within itself many elements, and 
it should be the duty and privilege of the salesperson to 
analyze carefully what goes to make up value in any in- 
dividual case. Unless this is done, customers cannot be 
expected to see that value is equivalent to the price 
marked on the tag, and it is only when price appears to 
be equivalent to value that goods are purchased. 

Third, does the manufacturer stand behind the article 
with a guarantee? If he does, it means that the manu- 
facturer, being closer than any one else to the productive 
process, sees in the article more than any one else pos- 
sbily can, and perhaps even more than can be described 
in the advertising matter. This surplus of value, in- 
dicated by no specific process or material, is lumped to- 



54 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



gether and represented by a blanket guarantee that the 
article will be satisfactory in every way, or by a specific 
guarantee that certain special materials or procesis will 
prove out in practice that which Is claimed for tnl 

The psychology of the guarantee Is that it mlqJaizes 
the risk assumed by the customer. With less rislc there 
is more value. People generally are hesitant to take 
risks of any sort, hence the large amounts of life insur- 
ance held by people of all classes. The tendency of 
modern industry and commerce Is toward more certainty, 
i. e., less risk. The minimum wage, guaranteed stock, 
increase of the salaried class and decrease of the en- 
trepreneur class, all Indicate this general groping toward 
more security in widely differing lines of activity. 
Guarantees by manufacturers are following the trend of 
the times and salespeople are overlooking a strong sell- 
ing point if they are not Informing the customer when 
these Insurances against risk exist. 

Fourth, do hand processes figure largely in the con- 
struction of the article? Machinery has revolutionized 
Industry, but because It standardizes goods and tends to- 
ward uniformity of product many people are prejudiced 
against goods made in this way. Thus we see people 
pointing out with exultation the unevennesses In the pat- 
terns of rugs made by hand. The individuality of the 
weaver has exhibited Itself In the construction of the rug 
and the dull uniformity of the machine process does not 
present itself. Again, most every one can have machine 
made goods but hand made goods are not so common. 
To get something " different " seems to be as strong 
an Instinct In humans as Is imitation. The fact that a 
knife blade is hand made, that button holes are hand 
stitched, that seams are hand sewed, that shoes are hand 



KNOWING THE GOODS 



55 






constructed, all tend to increase the value of these articles 
in the eyes of customers. After some classes have suc- 
ceeded in procuring something '* different," other classes 
proceed to Imitate this demand and soon large amounts 
of hand made goods are placed on the market. Soon de- 
mand may switch to some other feature of construction, 
but at present there is no doubt that a great impetus has 
been given to hand processes. The salesperson must see 
clearly this element of value and ascertain whether or 
not it has an appeal for the customer. If this element 
of value means nothing to the latter, the other features of 
the article should be emphasized, or a machine made 
article exhibited. Many people as yet would prefer a 
machine made rug with even, uniform patterns, to the ec- 
centric pattern of the hand constructed one. 

Fifth, is there any special raw material or element that 
enters Into the construction of the article? Many new 
compositions and substitutes have recently come upon the 
market to the amazement and growing perplexity of the 
customer. Some mattresses are now stuffed with a cer- 
tain Interesting South American wood that possesses quali- 
ties peculiarly adapted to the purpose it serves. Chairs 
are made of paper especially treated to give them great 
strength, beauty and durability. Straw hats often have 
special straw or wood chips grown under peculiar con- 
ditions; other goods are composed of queer materials 
brought from the four corners of the earth, with qualities 
rarely adapted to the functions they are to perform. 
Knowledge of the tribute customers owe to commerce and 
mdustry is valuable because it impresses the customer 
with a reason for the price and excites admiration for the 
store's progressiveness in securing new products. 

Sixth, has the article, naturally or artificially, been in- 






S6 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



sured against deterioration? Some colors are made fast 
by secret processes, or exceptional dyes have been used. 
Thus, the vegetable dyes used in some imported rugs are 
more permanent than the aniline or mineral dyes used in 
some domestic rugs. Certain furniture is constructed so 
it will not easily warp. Oftentimes fabrics have been 
pre-shrunk. Some metals are treated with preparations 
that prevent rusting, while a metal like aluminum cannot 
rust because it does not form an oxide with the air. 
Thread silk grows better with age while fiber silk decays 
or cracks. Some woods are treated so as to perpetually 
prevent decay. Likewise, there are often certain ways 
of handling or using goods which will Increase their life. 

Anything of this nature, if transferred to the customer 
effectually, increases the Importance of the goods In her 
estimation. It is In reality comparable to a reduction in 
price for her because it is felt that more is being secured 
for the money than was anticipated. If such informa- 
tion was more frequently given, price reductions would 
not be requested as often as they are at present, because 
when the customer asks to have the $50 suit reduced to 
$45 it merely means that the salesperson has only de- 
scribed $45 worth. The customer appraises the value 
of any article not by the price on the tag but by what she 
sees in it. 

As an illustration indicating with what interest and 
effectiveness a description of merchandise construction 
can be portrayed, is the following item taken from a 
mail order catalogue : ^ *' There are no layers in this 
mattress. It is filled with 100 per cent pure, choice long 
fiber staple cotton, left in its natural creamy white color 
as it comes from the pod, elastic and as pure as sunshine. 

1 Sears, Roebuck & Co., Catalogue, 1918, p. 1134- 



I 



KNOWING THE GOODS 



57 



This cotton is all blown apart by compressed air until the 
fibers are thoroughly separated, leaving each fiber with Its 
natural curl and springiness, free and unrestrained. This 
buoyant mass of cotton is fed into a large mold — a box 
the length and width of the mattress and several feet 
deep. The cotton is fed In from above, slowly and 
evenly by compressed air, and air currents distribute it 
uniformly as it sifts Into the mold like gently falling 
snow. About 50 pounds of this light, airy substance is 
blown into the mold, then compressed to the thickness of 
the mattress. This one giant batt, made up of millions 
of long, tough fibers all matted together in one integral 
part, is then slipped Into the ticking, completing the mat- 
tress. ..." 

The fifth classification consists of the most important 
selling arguments. These should be to the point and 
reviewed from time to time. How to appeal to the buy- 
ing motives (Instincts) of the customer should be Indi- 
cated. As stated elsewhere,^ the more instincts that 
can be appealed to, the more effective the sales talk. 
How many instincts any article is capable of appealing 
to can only be ascertained by careful study of each com- 
modity that a salesperson sells. Such a study may be 
found quite difficult at first but soon will become pleasur- 
able and productive of business-getting methods. To 
appeal in each case to the most powerful buying motives 
is to economically sell goods, because the feelings closest 
to the surface, I. e., those most susceptible to suggestion, 
are the ones utilized. 

If there Is still some doubt in the salesperson's mind 
how the knowledge requisite to effective selling can be 
secured, a few sources of material may be suggested. 

iSee Chap. IV. 



58 RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 

The first of these is the goods themselves. Much of the 
time spent at present by salespeople in idling could very 
profitably be utilized in examining the goods which they 
are daily handling, and in analyzing their characteristics 
and evidences of value. Making tests as already indi- 
cated will do much toward inspiring the salesperson with 
confidence in the merit of the stock. Unfortunately, 
there seems to be an impression among some salespeople 
that the qualities of goods of daily consumption are ob- 
vious to the casual observer. Experience has proved 
that this belief is unfounded in fact. Careful, pains- 
taking study must be made, even of the simplest article, 
if that article is to be comprehensively known. When 
it is considered that scientists sometimes spend an entire 
lifetime studying some part of the human body or a tiny 
insect, and still feel that there is much more to learn, 
how necessary is it for salespeople to realize that the true 
merit of any article cannot be ascertained by a superficial 
examination. 

Secondly, much valuable information regarding any 
article can be secured from the traveling salesman who 
sold it to the store. These men often have been through 
the factory where the goods are manufactured and know 
the processes of importance through which the goods 
have passed. They may know their composition and 
qualities not seen on the surface. Usually they are en- 
thusiastic about their line and will transmit this enthu- 
siasm if given the chance. Unfortunately, this impor- 
tant source of information is not m.ade use of in most 
stores, at least not by the salesperson. The department 
buyer may profit by the salesman's information but only 
seldom does this knowledge pass to the salesperson be- 
hind the counter in a form that will prove effective. 



KNOWING THE GOODS 



59 



Third, advertisements in magazines and newspapers 
often give short concise facts about the goods that are 
invaluable. Especially is this true of trade papers and 
magazines. The manufacturers have studied their goods 
carefully and have tried to ascertain their most important 
elements of value. Not only this. They have spent 
much time and effort in working out the most effective 
manner of presenting these qualities. The salesperson 
should feel grateful that such pioneering work has been 
done for her. She should follow the advertisements 
from week to week or month to month and keep her sell- 
ing talk fresh and interesting by incorporating into it the 
new ideas appearing in them. 

The advertisements of the store should likewise be 
followed closely in order to see what goods the store is 
offering and why they are being offered. Customers are 
invited to call at the store and look at definite specified 
articles indicated in the advertisement. Sometimes 
when they answer such an invitation the first salesper- 
son they meet is ignorant of just where these advertised 
articles are to be found. Lack of confidence in the store's 
methods is thus generated in the customer, which it is 
later difficult to overcome. If the salesperson knows a 
few important facts about goods in other departments 
and reads the store's advertisements concerning them, she 
can aid other departments by creating interest for the 
articles in the customer's mind; and in turn her own de- 
partment will benefit by the intelligent understanding of 
its offerings by salespeople in other departments. Only 
by reading the daily advertisements of the store can 
knowledge of the store's goods be fully known, and co- 
operation between departments become a reality. 

Fourth, a letter to the manufacturer requesting sales 



6o 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



KNOWING THE GOODS 



6l 



helps will usually bring much " dealer-cooperation " 
literature. Of all the sources of knowledge this per- 
haps is the most important. Manufacturers often send 
this material with the goods but frequently the retailer 
relegates it to the scrap heap.^ Because this literature 
is sent free and oftentimes when not asked for, sales- 
people and also retailers have sometimes secured the im- 
pression that such material is worthless. In reality, it 
could not be more valuable. Clever methods of display- 
ing the goods are suggested, and especially important are 
the distinguishing features of the goods clearly and forci- 
bly stated. In one booklet sent out to retailers, a manu- 
facturer of men's shirts states that the neck bands have 
been cut with steel dies so that there is absolutely no 
chance of sizes varying. The reader possibly realizes 
the strength of this talking point, especially if he has had 
some i^yi size shirts that have been larger than others; 
yet the salespeople selling this brand of shirts have 
seldom been known by the writer to use this element of 
value in their sales talks. They do not know what the 
manufacturer says about his own product. Every town 
has a good many dealers selling shirts, incubators, toys, 
underwear, firearms and other articles, and to judge which 
dealer has the " best " is often a herculean task. Some- 
times similar articles in different stores seem to be com- 
pletely alike. When such is the case it is only by chance 
or because of service that an intelligent customer buys 
at any store. When an article has an element of value 
which is not obvious, yet which in reality distinguishes it 
from other makes. It is indeed unfortunate if this dis- 
tinction Is not brought to the attention of the customer 

^ The writer has seen several stores in the smaller towns where deal- 
ers' helps were used for lighting fires. 



^ •Kr 



through the mediums of advertising and selling. Value 
is usually not an obvious thing; reasons for its existence 
must be dug up. The digging up process is irksome, takes 
mental effort and is expensive; but if the manufacturer 
sees fit to unearth the value of his goods it would seem 
that it is not a waste of time for the retailer and his sales- 
people to learn how this value was created, for it must 
eventually be recreated in the minds of customers. 

The last source of information is the public library. 
Encyclopedias give the history and description of some 
articles of everyday consumption, oftentimes quite in de- 
tail. They provide a great mass of information that 
is both entertaining and of an educational value. They 
are too infrequently used. Many salespeople do not 
know that they exist. If they do not use them it may be 
said that these sources of Information do not exist so far 
as they are concerned. Many libraries have books on 
textiles, shoes, household furnishings, jewelry, novelties 
and other goods. Some of these consist of technical de- 
scriptions but much of the material is of a clearly under- 
standable nature, often written in an interesting, vigorous 
style. The salesperson should ascertain what instruc- 
tion the library can give. If books on the line desired 
are not in the library, the librarian can ascertain from 
publishers' catalogues what books have been written on 
the subject, and If there is a fund available for the purpose 
a purchase for the library may be made. The writer has 
often been told by librarians that few books on business 
and allied subjects were purchased because of the small 
demand for them. Once a healthy demand for business 
books develops in any community, the library will usually 
endeavor to meet it by new purchases. If the library 
has no fund available for the purchase of a book desired 



62 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



by a salesperson the latter need not despair. Many 
stores are willing to order salesmanship books for their 
salespeople, but where they are not, such can be coopera- 
tively purchased by several salespeople interested in the 
same line. There Is no justification for lack of knowl- 
edge. If the selling job looms up large enough in the 
salesperson's mind, ways and means for coping with its 
possibilities will present themselves. 

Knowledge of goods has thus far been discussed from 
one standpoint, viz., the elements that go to make up 
quality value. It is important that goods should be 
known from two other standpoints, viz., location and 
quantity. 

(a) Location, 
^ It is not merely enough to finally locate the goods de- 
sired by the customer. Time is an Important element in 
the sale. Promptness in showing goods is one of the 
elements of service, and service is the reason for the ex- 
istence of the store. 

A systematic arrangement of stock is absolutely neces- 
sary. Whether the goods are kept on counters, boxes or 
loose upon the shelves, the exact location of each article 
should be definitely known. If memorizing location is 
found to be difficult, a chart of the section or store, with 
the location of goods, can be made and referred to from 
time to time until it is part of the fund of knowledge. 
Finding of sizes, styles, grades, etc., of each class of 
goods then becomes automatic and impresses the cus- 
tomer with the efficiency of the store. 

(b) Quantity, 

Knowledge of the quantity of stock is to retailing what 
the safety valve is to the boiler — it prevents trouble. 



KNOWING THE GOODS 



63 



If the stock runs low an explosion by some customer takes 
place sooner or later and dollars are lost. 

Further, there should be a constant review of stock 
so that all old, backward or surplus stock, odds and ends, 
remnants, broken lots and shop-worn goods can be fea- 
tured and closed out. 

It is also well to make note of any goods that are called 
for but which are not carried in stock. Possibilities of 
substitution should be considered and reasons ascertained 
why particular goods In question are called for. 

It is the store's business to have in stock what a store 
of its kind and character customarily carries. If it fails 
to supply what custom and demand dictates, the store is 
failing to perform one element of service which is vital 
to its success. 



KNOWING THE CUSTOMER 



6S 



CHAPTER IV 
KNOWING THE CUSTOMER 

A prominent salesman once said, " Salesmanship is 
chiefly applying an intimate knowledge of human nature 
in selling." Others occupied in selling goods have also 
laid great weight on understanding human nature, while 
some have even gone so far as to say that the only quali- 
fication for salesmanship is a complete knowledge of the 
customer. From one viewpoint this latter assumption 
is true. The other three elements of salesmanship, viz., 
knowing the goods, knowing one's self and knowing the 
selling process, may be considered only as different aspects 
of knowing the customer. Self-confidence, ability to an- 
swer questions, and an interesting sales talk, acquired as 
the result of knowing the goods, are necessities to a sales- 
person because human nature is favorably impressed with 
these requirements. Likewise, the elements of character 
and personality such as politeness, honesty and prompt- 
ness, are emphasized by the scientific salesperson for the 
simple reason that she understands human nature and 
knows that such qualities make a favorable impression. 
Knowing the selling process is merely understanding a 
part of human nature, viz., the working of the human 
mind. To understand how the mind arrives at a deci- 
sion implies a knowledge of human nature. 

If, then, human nature is the chief element in sales- 
manship, why should four elements be considered inde- 

64 



4 



I 



pendently ? Why should not the three elements of sales- 
manship indicated above be subordinate classifications 
under the all-important heading — knowledge of human 
nature? The answer to this is that it is taken for 
granted that human nature is the background for selling, 
hence the elements of salesmanship should specifically 
state by what methods human nature can be reached. 
The present chapter, then, while entitled, Knowing the 
Customer, recognizes that all salesmanship is knowing 
or understanding human nature as represented by the cus- 
tomer, but it likewise realizes that human nature has ele- 
ments of likeness and difference which lend themselves 
to specific and effective methods of approach. It is to 
indicate this particular phase of knowing the customer 
that this and the next chapter is devoted. 

Salesmanship is the art of persuading people to pur^ 
chase goods which will give of lasting satisfactions ^ by 
using methods which consume the least time and effort. 
Such methods always discover the most vulnerable points 
in human nature and then concentrate on these. To do 
otherwise is to needlessly expend both time and energy, 
something which no salesperson can afford to do. Scien- 
tific selling is selling where conditions to the sale are un- 
derstood. It is the opposite from haphazard selling or 
selling without plan and without anticipating what the re- 
sults of certain operations will be. The unscientific sales- 
person does not know where she is going but she is on her 
way. The scientific salesperson knows what methods she 
is using and what effect they will produce. She is operat- 
ing intelligently. When she pulls a lever called an in- 
stinct she realizes what reactions are taking place in the 
customer's mind; and she knows which levers are the most 
desirable to pull in different situations. If the unscien- 



66 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



KNOWING THE CUSTOMER 



67 



tific salesperson pulls the right lever in any situation it is 
entirely by chance ; it is just as possible for the wrong lever 
to be pulled. In other words, the latter salesperson is 
working in the dark while the former sees her operations 
distinctly by the light of knowledge. 

Certain motives for buying, certain instincts, are com- 
mon to all people. Some are stronger in some people, 
others have greater Influence with other people, but every 
person has certain instincts which, although apparently 
dormant, if appealed to effectively will spring into activity 
and initiate action in the direction desired. A knowl- 
edge of these insincts is, then, very necessary in salesman- 
ship. If known and understood they can be used as in- 
struments with which to forge out sales. In a sense they 
can be considered as the levers which, if pulled tactfully, 
will ring up sales in the cash register. They are the 
points of contact that every sales talk should make use 
of; and just to the extent that these known aids to selling 
are intelligently utilized can any sales talk be considered 
truly effective. From the standpoint of salesmanship 
the following instincts are the most important. 

I. Self-preservation. By means of this instinct man 
has been enabled to survive the natural terrors and 
dangers of his environment. Stone clubs and other crude 
weapons were made and used against wild animals and 
hostile races in order to preserve the physical self, while 
the necessity of providing sustenance and shelter was like- 
wise paramount. Through ages of time these two neces- 
sities for self-preservation primarily interested all man- 
kind. Within recent years, since the industrial and agri- 
cultural revolutions, man's ability to produce sustenance 
and shelter has increased many thousand fold, thereby 
making mere physical preservation comparatively easy; 



while inventions and the production of great wealth have 
enabled the western peoples to organize armies and build 
navies which preserve the people from hostile outside 
forces, thus removing what was formerly one of the chief 
dangers to individual and collective existence. 

What then is the significance of the instinct of self- 
preservation at the present time? The necessity of pre- 
serving the physical self has been replaced by that of main- 
taining the social self. The present-day economic strug- 
gle is not waged around physical existence or even physical 
well being, but it centers in maintaining a standard of liv- 
ing or a set of conditions necessary to mental comfort. 
Self-preservation today consists largely in keeping one's 
social image intact, that is, In maintaining the kind of 
person that people think we are. How to preserve our 
social self, I. e., what people think we are, has indeed be- 
come a necessity as well as a problem. We can only pre- 
serve this all-important " self " by ascertaining continu- 
ally what goods other people think necessary to maintain 
their " selves," and by comparing our " selves " with our 
conception of the social image of our " selves." 

This Is where the salesperson places the entering wedge. 
If It can be intimated In a tactful manner that the cus- 
tomer's social self will suffer through failure to purchase 
an article, a powerful instinct has been appealed to which 
will tend to produce action satisfying to itself. If the 
customer feels for an instant that her " self " as others 
see her (social self) will not be preserved unless a cer- 
tain action Is taken, the chances are greatly in favor of 
that action being taken. But first of all the customer 
must see the situation clearly. Then she must be made 
to feel what a disparaged social self would mean to her 
mental comfort. 



68 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



How this can be accomplished in any individual case 
is something for each salesperson to work out for her- 
self. No general rule can be laid down to cover all 
eventualities. Salespeople selling wearing apparel and 
household furnishings have especially good possibilities 
for making practical use of this instinct. Either sex will 
usually buy a new garment if it believes that its " self " 
(as viewed by others) will be strengthened thereby ; but in 
every case, if circumstances permit, a new garment will 
be purchased rather than have the social self reduced in 
importance. Mental comfort has become as important 
as physical comfort formerly was. The clever salesper- 
son devises ways and means of showing the customer how 
purchases of certain goods are conducive to this much 
valued mental comfort and how going without certain 
goods is not worth while because of the mental anguish 
caused by what others think. Clear cut ideas leading 
toward a definite effect must be given the customer. 
What the salesperson desires to do should be clearly 
visualized and then the best methods devised for attain- 
ing this object. Instincts such as this when dealt with 
in a definite manner produce definite results. Only a 
clearly thought out method of approach will secure sales. 
Until the salesperson is willing to take the time to ascer- 
tain just how she is going to appeal to the instinct of self- 
preservation in selling different articles, it were better 
that it be left alone. With study, however, this instru- 
ment of approach will prove effective. 

2. Vanity. Everybody has a streak of vanity but 
some people have a more prominent streak than others. 
Where this instinct is strong it has powerful potentiality 
for sales. Dress is very often a good index of vanity. 
The man or woman dressed gaudily in order to attract 



KNOWING THE CUSTOMER 



69 



attention is especially vain. Between this extreme and 
the conservatively dressed people are all degrees of van- 
ity. Where it is prominent and appears to be a con- 
trolling factor in the customer's actions it should be ap- 
pealed to strongly and consistently ; where it is slumbering 
beneath the surface it should be awakened by a gentle 
but not insistent appeal. But every sales talk should 
have some appeals to vanity. They should be written 
down if necessary in order that they will become con- 
nected up with the article in the salesperson's mind and 
hence will not be forgotten when they are most needed. 

How this powerful instinct may be appealed to differs 
of course with different goods. A ready-to-wear sales- 
person will place the garment on the customer and then 
step back, look admiringly at her and speak with en- 
thusiasm of the combination. The customer's vanity is 
being appealed to when a salesperson selling linens says 
to the customer, '' I see you are a good judge of linens "; 
when a kitchen utensil salesperson says, ^' Being a skilled 
cook you will especially appreciate this new arrange- 
ment " ; when a furniture salesperson says, '' Very few 
people appreciate our efforts to bring out the latest de- 
signs; I am so glad you admire them "; when a drapery 
salesperson remarks, '' I am sure you would not be satis- 
fied with anything but the latest"; when a phonograph 
salesperson exclaims, " We have some new records from 
your favorite artists "; when a ready-to-wear salesperson 
says to a customer whose husband has given his opinion 
regarding some garments, " Men certainly know ' right ' 
garments." Every article has within itself an appeal 
to a customer's vanity, but this appeal is not always ap- 
parent. It can usually only be discovered and applied 
after careful study of the goods. 



■:S 



70 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



Vanity Is appealed to by repeating important remarks 
of the customer. One salesperson oftentimes says, " As 
you just said, etc., etc.," or, " The point you brought out 
is a good one," or, '' Your way of putting it was just 
right." If anything that the customer says is repeated, 
confirmed or enlarged upon, the customer unconsciously 
feels that her opinions are of some importance, and as a 
result a pleasurable sensation is experienced. Customers 
like to shop where they are " felt to be somebody " ; where 
their ego can expand. Salespeople should appreciate 
this fact much more than they do and provide the en- 
vironment that the customer desires, even though that 
desire is an unconscious one. When this is done custom- 
ers feel that they are " understood." 

A customer's vanity is appealed to when the salesper- 
son addresses her by name, and title if she has one. To 
say, " Good morning, Mrs. Jones," is to individualize 
that person thereby distinguishing her from Mrs. Brown 
or Mrs. Smith. To be solicitous of the customer's wel- 
fare, to do unexpected favors, to approach her promptly, 
to defer to her desires, all these things are appeals to the 
customer's vanity. These appeals to vanity are often 
overlooked but are usually more common than appeals to 
vanity in sales talks. The latter is what this discussion 
especially attempts to emphasize. 

Vanity should be looked upon as a device to secure 
sales just as the show cases and advertisements exist for 
that purpose. A merchant who does not advertise or 
make use of the latest improvements in store equipment 
and design can justly be condemned, but no more than 
can the salesperson who has selling devices such as in- 
stincts at her service but fails to utilize them. Vanity is 
as much a part of human beings as are eyes or ears and it 



KNOWING THE CUSTOMER 



71 



Is just as legitimate. If this Is so, why should the senses 
be appealed to but not the instincts? Such practice is 
common, no doubt, due to the fact that the sense organs 
are obvious — they can be seen, while the powerful in- 
stincts are not visible and are therefore overlooked. As 
the instincts become better known salespeople will gradu- 
ally devise selling appeals to them just as they have done 
for the senses. 

3. Parental. Mothers and fathers instinctively prize 
their children above everything else. They will not hesi- 
tate to risk their own lives to save them from bodily in- 
jury neither will they avoid expense if they believe the 
welfare of their children will be bettered thereby. Par- 
ents are responsible for the condition of their children's 
social self,^ and in any particular case If made to real- 
ize this by the salesperson, they will endeavor to pro- 
tect it as they would protect their own social selves, 
only to a greater extent. Thus a salesperson can often 
appeal to two Instincts at the same time thereby increas- 
ing materially the total effectiveness of the selling 
appeal. 

The limits between which the parental Instinct can be 
utilized are only fixed by the Ingenlousness and construc- 
tive capacity of the salesperson. Some salespeople will 
see possibilities for its use where others do not. A wo- 
man, accompanied by her little girl, having just made a 
purchase was about to leave the ladies' ready-to-wear 
department when the salesperson took some furs from a 
nearby table and placed them on the child. The mother 
was impressed with their appearance as was also the 
child. The result was that the mother purchased the 
furs for her daughter. Here two instincts were appealed 

^ See page 67. 



i 



72 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



KNOWING THE CUSTOMER 



73 



to, VIZ., parental and possession.^ The mother did not 
have the heart to withhold from the child that which 
meant so much and was so becoming to her. Perhaps 
another salesperson would have seen no possibilities in 
this situation to appeal to the parental Instinct. 

To Illustrate this point further, an example already 
used elsewhere ^ to clarify another point may be used. 
It will be remembered that the father hesitated to buy the 
diamond ring for his daughter because he believed it 
would make her vain. The salesperson pulled the lever 
of parental Instinct when she said, " This diamond is the 
most beautiful and permanent form In which you can 
show your affection for your daughter.'' Another sales- 
person might have taken the rebufF from the customer 
and sought no further reasons why the ring should be 
purchased. There are, no doubt, reasons that could 
be devised against the purchase of every article, but there 
can likewise be devised reasons for the purchase of every 
article. The salesperson who can devise the most logical 
reasons why her goods should be purchased is laying the 
foundation for larger sales. 

A vacuum cleaner salesperson appeals to the parental 
instinct by showing that dusty carpets endanger the 
health of little children who play on them. The book 
salesperson claims that children should have greater ad- 
vantages than their parents had if they are to get any- 
where in the world at the present time. The musical 
instrument salesperson sees a possibility of the child de- 
veloping its taste for music. The hardware salesper- 
son believes that the boy should have tools with which to 
develop his mechanical ingenuity. A picture salesperson 

1 See page 74. 

2 Page 48. 



tells the mother that certain pictures will inspire her chil- 
dren. 

If the children are with the mother or father, all the 
attention consistent with propriety should be paid them. 
The parents are flattered by any complimentary attention 
to their children. If the children shop without their 
parents they should be treated with every consideration 
because their likes and dislikes have weight with their 
parents. When a child praises a certain salesperson or 
store its parents hold a more favorable Impression of that 
store or salesperson, while if the child makes adverse 
criticism the parent may conclude that the store has taken 
some advantage of the child. With the parent, her child 
is right. Pranks may be played and trouble started but 
her boy or girl " wouldn't think of doing such a thing." 
Since it Is difficult If not Impossible to disillusion parents 
regarding the real character of their children, it behooves 
salespeople to so treat children that they and their store 
are well spoken of in the homes of the community. Such 
a policy Is also necessary for another reason, viz., the 
customers of tomorrow are the children of today. 

4. Companionship. People enjoy the companionship 
of others, and anything that will make others desire one's 
companionship is thought to be especially desirable. If 
any garment will make one more companionable; if cer- 
tain house-furnishings will make people want to get ac- 
quainted with us; if rare pictures, china, tapestries, linens 
or silver will make our companionship more sought after; 
if certain cooking utensils will facilitate the production 
of meals that will leave a favorable and lasting impres- 
sion on our guests; in fact, if a customer can purchase 
anything that will make it desirable for people to become 
acquainted with her, she will be inclined to do so. 



\' 



74 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



Human beings are gregarious animals. To be iso- 
lated from one's fellow beings is a great hardship. To 
be the center of attraction is a great source of mental 
comfort. What capacity for achieving this desirable end 
has any article? If this question is asked of every article 
the salesperson is selling, and if a careful study is made 
to find an answer to it, new possibilities of appeal will 
be found in the commonplace goods around us. Some 
goods, of course, have a greater capacity in this direction 
than others, but most all goods have some capacity, di- 
rectly or indirectly, of attracting people toward the pos- 
sessor. 

5. Possession. People reluctantly part with that 
which they have once had in their possession. This fact 
is often illustrated in the case of children. A mother 
promises her child a doll. The child's face lights up 
with pleasure but the matter is soon forgotten. Later 
on, the mother points out the doll on the shelf in the 
store. The child is extremely pleased for a short period 
of time but other things soon distract its attention and 
the doll is forgotten. A few days later when the time 
for purchase has come, the doll is taken down from the 
shelf to be wrapped up. The child begs to hold the doll 
and is allowed to do so. Then the mother tries to per- 
suade the child to return the doll to the salesperson so 
that it may be wrapped up. Does she succeed? It is 
indeed an exceptional child if it does not struggle to main- 
tain that which it has in its possession. The " mine " 
feeling is predominant. What a few moments before 
was just a doll is now " my doll." To relinquish it would 
be to give up a part of " self." This, every one (not 
only children) finds it most difficult to do; for when the 
instinct of possession is utilized in selling goods the goods 



KNOWING THE CUSTOMER 



75 



in a sense become a part of the customer. To construct 
this intimate relation between the customer and the goods 
is very necessary in the making of sales. 

This fact is illustrated by the following incident. A 
large 5 and 10 cent store system was accustomed to dis- 
play pocket flashlights on an open table, but due to the 
fact that many of them were broken or rendered useless 
by reason of the constant handling by customers, an 
order was issued to inclose all of this line of goods in a 
glass case. Three months later this order was rescinded 
and instructions were given to restore the flashlights to 
the open tables. In the brief period of three months it 
had been found that it was better to have large sales with 
some broken flashlights than to have small sales and 
no broken flashlights. When customers were permitted 
to handle the flashlights, i. e., were able to be in posses- 
sion of them for a few moments and could operate them 
as their own, the instinct of possession was functioning, 
while this was not the case when the flashlights were dis- 
played under glass. In selling goods the instinct of 
possession must constantly be taken into account. 

Only in comparatively recent times have merchants 
made extensive use of this instinct. This is true not 
only as regarding the display of goods but also in the 
matter of returned goods. When, half a century ago 
in Philadelphia, John Wanamaker advertised that goods 
could be taken out of the store on approval, his com- 
petitors thought that he was insane. The latter believed 
that the public would impose on any store adopting such 
a policy. They did not realize that while some loss 
would result from this plan, this would be more than 
offset by the increased sales resulting from the appeal 
to the instinct of possession. Since this pioneer effort 



7^ RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 

by a far sighted merchant most retailers have adopted the 
policy of goods sent out on approval.^ 

" Goods sent out on approval " can be considered as 
only an extension of the principle of open display within 
the store. Within the store the customer can handle or 
possess any article for only a few minutes and the *' mine '* 
feeling oftentimes does not have time to harden or crys- 
tallize into decision. The longer the period of posses- 
sion, however, the stronger the " mine " feeling; so when 
the article is taken home for two or three days and placed 
in a familiar environment, time is given for this feeling 
of attachment, this feeling of reluctance to return a pos- 
sessed thing, to develop. 

Some articles cannot be sent out on approval but many 
are capable of being thus used without injury to them- 
selves. Household furnishings like rugs, draperies and 
furniture, ready-to-wear that is not easily soiled, pic- 
tures, musical instruments, sweepers and vacuum clean- 
ers, hardware, and many other lines are daily being sent 
out on approval by stores all over the country and more 
sales are being made because such is the case. Like the 
handling of open displays in the store the sending out of 
goods on approval means much expense and soiled and 
damaged goods, but if the increased sales more than off- 
set this loss the policy can be justified. That this is the 
situation seems to be indicated by the persistence of the 
policy. 

6. Imitation. It seems to be a fundamental trait of 
human beings to unconsciously imitate the sayings, doings 
and dress of others. Let one gaze into the open sky 
and soon a crowd of people are looking in the same dl- 

1 Several large merchants in the Middle West adopted this policy 
about the same time as did V^anamaker. 



KNOWING THE CUSTOMER 



77 



rection. Let one stop and look intently into a show 
window and soon others will be doing the same. Let 
some fad come out and a following Is rapidly secured for 
it. Let some one In a gathering yawn, chew gum, or 
smoke, and the general tendency is to imitate these ac- 
tions. 

The salesperson often appeals -to this instinct by sny- 
Ing, " These are good sellers,'' or, ** We sell a lot of 
these." The tendency is for people to buy what other 
people are buying. If we go to the box office to pur- 
chase tickets for a show and see that only a few tickets 
have been sold, the tendency Is to turn away without pur- 
chasing, while a shortage of tickets Induces us to quickly 
part with our money. Another salesperson will appeal 
to the instinct of imitation by quoting what some cus- 
tomer has said regarding a certain article. This is an 
indirect way of Indicating that this particular customer 
has purchased this article, and Is, therefore, especially 
effective. To directly state that Mrs. Jones has pur- 
chased a certain article can only be done in exceptional 
circumstances. Very often such a statement would be 
strongly resented as representing an attempt to influence 
the customer's opinion. Unfortunately, this crude 
method of dealing with the instinct of Imitation has been 
too commonly used, and because it has often irritated 
customers the instinct of Imitation Itself has been con- 
demned as one not capable of favorable appeal in selling 
goods. The trouble is not with the Instinct but with 
the open manner In which It Is used. Much care must 
be exercised In making such appeals so that the mechan- 
ism Is not obvious. The mechanics of selling Is a means 
to an end, viz., sales, and Is not the end Itself. When 
the method or technique of selling Is more evident than 



78 RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 

the meaning of the method, then there had better be less 
method or at least a change in it. 

Besides telling what customers have said regarding 
any article, another method of employing the instinct of 
imitation is to indicate somewhere in the sales talk the ex- 
periences that customers have had with fhe goods. Thus, 
the shoe salesperson may say that Mrs. Jones likes a 
" turned sole " because it conforms so readily to the shape 
of the foot; or, Mrs. Smith uses her aluminum pancake 
griddle in a certain manner; or, Mrs. Black has worked 
out a delightful color scheme by using certain household 
furnishings. Such methods of appealing to the instinct 
of imitation are very effective. Many good qualities of 
goods can be brought to the attention of the customer, 
not by bald statement merely, but by indicating the re- 
lationship of these qualities to certain customer's opin- 
ions, experiences and preferences. Two methods of at- 
tack are thus combined and the result is doubly effective 
in convincing the customer. 

Again, the statement of objections by customers often 
affords an opportunity of answering them through an ap- 
peal to the instinct of imitation. If the customer thinks 
that the shoe salesperson is fitting her " too long," per- 
haps Mrs. Jones thought the same thing but was after- 
wards pleased because she accepted the salesperson's 
advice. If the customer thinks that the price of a rug is 
" too high," perhaps Mrs. Smith had the same feeling 
until she realized that the value of the rug, because of 
certain features, was equal to the price. If the cus- 
tomer feels that a broad brimmed hat makes him look 
" funny," possibly his neighbor had the same feeling 
which disappeared when he became accustomed to it. 



It 



KNOWING THE CUSTOMER 



79 



When objections are answered by appeals to the instinct 
of imitation as in these cases, customers are inclined to 
imitate the action of those whom they know, and trust 
that their satisfaction will prove as favorable as that of 
their acquaintances. Unconsciously to the customer, 
such appeals to the instinct of imitation challenge her self- 
respect; because if other people made the same objections 
as she did and yet purchased the article^ why should not 
she see the invalidity of these objections as they did? In 
other words, if she imitates some people in making certain 
objections, why should not she also imitate them in pur- 
chasing the goods against which the objections have 
been levied? People's minds, like water, follow the line 
of least resistance. In this case, the line of least resist- 
ance is to imitate certain persons in purchasing an article, 
because they have already been imitated when the same 
objections as they gave were stated. To imitate once is 
to make it easier to imitate again. Appeals that show 
how a customer has already imitated make it easy for her 
to imitate again although in a different way. 

Perhaps it is not superfluous to state that great care 
must be exercised in the selection of persons suitable as 
objects of imitation. The persons thus used must be ad- 
mired by the customer or held in respect, otherwise there 
will be no incentive to imitate. Reference to a person 
who is repulsive to the customer, or one held in low es- 
teem, is courting disaster to the sale. Like all other 
devices of selling, the instinct of imitation must be used 
with caution and in an intelligent way. Unless this is 
done it can operate no more effectively than the mower 
that is run over stones. Under certain conditions mow- 
ers work efficiently, and likewise only under certain con- 






8o 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



ditions will the machinery of salesmanship do what is 
expected of it. These " conditions " the salesperson 
must secure. 

7. Curiosity. It seems to be characteristic of human 
nature to speculate on the true significance of that which 
is not fully apparent. When a store sale is going on and 
the show windows are plastered so thick with announce- 
ments of the sale that what is transpiring inside is a 
matter of speculation, people stand outside "wonder- 
ing" how many people are inside and whether there 
really are the bargains announced. Usually this won- 
dering or curiosity can only be satisfied by entering the 
store and seeing for one's self. Again, because of little 
incidents certain people have mentioned from time to time 
in their conversation with others, much speculation often 
arises as to people's ages, degrees of wealth, domestic 
happiness, social connections, etc. Advertisements play 
upon the instinct of curiosity when they present puzzle 
pictures or problems to be solved. A cleverly written 
story appeals to this instinct when the outcome of the 
plot is uncertain. The reader's interest is maintained 
to the finis because he knows that he will not be " satis- 
fied " unless he finishes the story, i. e., his curiosity will 
not be satisfied. The public speaker giving a series of 
lectures holds the interest of his hearers through the 
series by dropping hints as to what is going to be dis- 
cussed, but he is careful not to give enough of the future 
lectures to satisfy the curiosity of his audience. A great 
evangelist holds the attention of his hearers partly 
through use of this instinct. People " wonder what he is 
going to do next." 

If the instinct of curiosity is capable of being utilized 
to such an extent in other fields, has it as great possi- 



KNOWING THE CUSTOMER 



81 



bilities in retail selling? Efficient salespeople all over 
the country have answered this question in the affirma- 
tive. They have succeeded in appealing to the custom- 
er's curiosity in many ways. No matter what line the 
salesperson is handling, careful study will reveal such 
methods of holding attention, securing interest, creating 
desire and inducing decision to buy. Methods like these 
do not come to the salesperson's consciousness on the 
spur of the moment. Only in rare cases is this true. 
Preparation of selling talks in advance is the only cer- 
tain way to build up selling eflficiency that is the result 
of making varied appeals to every feeling that is directly 
or indirectly connected with the forming of a decision. 

Some indication how such appeals can be made may be 
helpful. A grocery salesperson over the phone appeals 
to the customer's curiosity when he describes the delicious- 
ness of the pears, but adds, " Of course you cannot real- 
ize how really fine they are until you have tasted them." 
Speculation as to how they will taste and whether or not 
they will be as excellent as described, demands satisfac- 
tion, and this can only be accomplished by ordering and 
eating them. A ladies' ready-to-wear salesperson says 
to a woman who has tried on a suit coat and is undecided 
whether she wants it, " It will look altogether different 
when you get the skirt on." How it will actually look 
the customer can only surmise, but this very element of 
wonder holds her interest and makes her susceptible to 
the suggestions of the salesperson, as well as enabling the 
latter to present the entire suit under the most favorable 
conditions. The silk underwear salesperson says, " If 
you have never worn silk underwear you really cannot 
imagine how delightful is the sensation of its sheer, soft 
touch." Here the customer's imagination is strongly 



■I.: 



82 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



r, 



appealed to but likewise her curiosity as to just how the 
underwear would '' feel.'' A furniture salesperson may 
develop the customer's interest by thus appealing to her 
curiosity: " Perhaps you would be interested in knowing 
how this effect is produced." 

The salesperson can make good use of the instinct of 
curiosity in the first step of the selling process, i. e., in 
gaining the customer's attention. Phrases such as, 
"Have you seen this new material?" "There are sev- 
eral features recently added to this article which give it 
unique distinction," " These goods have gone through 
a special process that makes them less liable to warp," 
" It is only with the greatest difficulty that these furs can 
be secured at the present time," " These hose have re- 
cently been subjected to a severe test in order to ascer- 
tain their tensile strength," all these appeal more or less 
strongly to the instinct of curiosity. Certain words or 
phrases in these sentences such as, " new," " features re- 
cently added," " special process," " greatest difficulty," 
"severe test," lend themselves to speculation. Some- 
thing more must be added if their meaning is to be clear. 
In order to get her curiosity satisfied the customer must 
give the salesperson her attention, and this is all that 
the latter should wish for. When attention has been 
secured it devolves upon the salesperson to give such a 
sales talk that the customer will desire the goods intensely 
enough to buy them. Specialty salespeople and com- 
mercial travelers often consider the sale three-fourths 
made if they can get an audience, i. e., the customer's at- 
tention. Curiosity, cleverly appealed to through phrases 
such as those described, is a valuable device in attracting 
customers' attention to the goods. 

The other steps in the selling process (securing inter- 



i 



KNOWING THE CUSTOMER 



83 



est, creating desire and inducing decision) are also often 
more easily reached by making use of this instinct. 
When the customer's interest is lagging, if some goods are 
withheld from her and she is told that these will be shown 
in a few minutes, her curiosity to see them is the tonic that 
enables her to hold interest in the goods at hand. Keep- 
ing back some of the goods and yet referring to them is 
a method often used to tide the customer over a restless 
period and thus enables the salesperson to give the most 
effective selling points. All that the salesperson should 
ask for is an opportunity to present the goods in the most 
effective manner to the customer; but it must be realized 
that opportunities can be "created" (as indicated by 
devices for securing attention), and the "most effective 
manner " is something for the salesperson to devise. If 
conditions are not conducive to efficient presentation of 
selling points then some device must be used to create 
favorable conditions. Appeals to curiosity are very often 
the means of securing the right " conditions " for the 
favorable reception of the sales talk. 

8. Hunting,, People hunt for the joy of hunting. 
Sound-minded men will spend weeks of time and large 
sums of money in order to get a shot at a deer or follow 
the trail of some wild thing. Whether or not they bag 
any game is often immaterial; they have enjoyed the 
hunt. Because of the impelling power of this instinct 
men follow winding streams for miles in the hope of 
catching the wily trout. If one hole does not materialize 
the desired fish it is always the hole just around the bend 
that must have a " big fellow " in it. But whatever the 
result of the day's effort, many men get keen enjoyment 
out of the effort itself. 

Not only does the hunting instinct exhibit itself in the 



^ ^: 



ii4 



84 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



actions of men but likewise in those of the opposite sex. 
Women when they go shopping or bargain hunting are 
responding to this instinct as much as are men who go 
beast, bird or fish hunting. The principle in each case 
Is the same; only the object hunted is different. Most 
women like to shop. They take keen pleasure in scenting 
out the " good values " — in getting bargains. In order 
to realize the truth of this assertion one need only observe 
stores where bargains or " specials " have been adver- 
tised. The hunting ground has been located and the 
hunt begins. It is no exaggeration to say that the hunt 
becomes so strenuous at times that physical exhaustion 
takes place. Several cases are known to the writer where 
customers were so eager to get at the bargain squares, 
and struggled so strenuously, that some of the contest- 
ants fainted and had to be taken off the field. No fox 
hunter ever made a greater effort to bag a fox than 
some customers do to get the advantages called bar- 
gains. 

How can the salesperson capitalize this impelling in- 
stinct? The answer Is, only by knowing when specials 
or bargains are offered and where they are to be found. 
This means a daily knowledge of the store advertising. 
Recently the writer unexpectedly asked a department 
store sales force of two hundred people what specials 
were being offered in that store on that particular day, 
and only ^ve^ per cent were acquainted with the special 
offers outside of their own department. In some cases 
the salesperson had no knowledge of the specials in her 
own department. Obviously under such conditions cus- 
tomers cannot have adequate knowledge of the " hunting 
grounds,'' unless perchance they have read and remem- 
bered the advertisements which oftentimes Is not the case. 



\ 



KNOWING THE CUSTOMER 



85 



The function of the salesperson, no matter what her de- 
partment, Is to act as guide to the customer-hunter. This 
does not mean that the salesperson should personally di- 
rect the customer to the departments where the specials 
are to be found, because very often the salesperson can- 
not leave her own department, but It does mean that 
adequate descriptions of specials should be given together 
with specific directions as to where they may be found. 
The customer is usually pleased to be introduced to the 
floor manager who may be able to conduct her to the de- 
partment she Is seeking. It Is only too common a prac- 
tice, even when a customer asks the location of certain 
goods, to Indicate In a general and indefinite way where 
they may be found. Unless the directions are specific 
the customer's ardor Is dampened, and as a result the de- 
partment asked for may never have the opportunity of 
welcoming her. 

Besides a feeling of Indifference, another reason why 
departments do not cooperate to a greater extent with 
one another. Is jealousy. One department manager Is 
sometimes depressed when he sees the growing prosperity 
of another department, and his negative feeling dominates 
those working under him. While, perhaps, the latter do 
not openly knock the rival department, they at least do not 
boost it or call Its specials to the attention of customers 
shopping in their department. Such friction is Indeed 
unfortunate, especially so because it prevents utilization 
of the hunting instinct. If each department knows the 
Important values in every other department, a firm 
foundation for appeals to the hunting instinct of custom- 
ers has been laid; but even then jealousy must give way 
to friendly rivalry. " Each for all and all for each " 
should be the motto of every department store. Only 






86 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



S: 



p' 



( 



by following such a broad policy can the maximum sales 
in all departments be reached. 

9. Building. People take pleasure in constructing 
things. To watch something materialize as the result 
of human effort usually affords keen enjoyment. Suc- 
cessful appeals have been made to this instinct by " knock 
down " furniture dealers. In reading advertisements 
dealing with furniture of this character, the imagina- 
tion of the customer dwells on the pleasure to be derived 
from " putting the parts together." The same is true 
of " knock down " houses. Patterns appeal to this in- 
stinct in women. If the salesperson can picture the 
pleasure to be secured from making a garment and can 
enable the customer to visualize the finished product, a 
strong motive force for purchasing both patterns and 
materials has been appealed to. 

Widely differing kinds of goods are capable of appeal- 
ing to the instinct of building or construction: lace, 
buttons, piece goods, hat forms and decorations, beads, 
tools, lumber, paints, house fixtures, dyes, threads, yarns 
and many other items. In fact, the limits to this appeal 
are fixed by the salesperson herself. Each article should 
be studied carefully to ascertain its possibilities in this 
direction. Only in this way can the salesperson be cer- 
tain that this lever is being utilized to its fullest extent in 
inducing customers to buy. 

Oftentimes there is an educational element involved 
in building. Children, especially, develop muscle coor- 
dination and dexterity by weaving, carving, constructing 
things out of blocks, stone, clay, wood. Iron or brass. 
Wherever this is true the parental ^ as well as the build- 
ing instinct may be appealed to. 

1 See page 71. 



KNOWING THE CUSTOMER 87 

Besides these instincts which arc the most important 
ones for the salesperson to consider, there are two funda- 
mental traits or characteristics of human nature which it 
will be well to remember and take into account when sell- 
ing goods. These are selfishness and laziness. Every- 
body is selfish and everybody is lazy, although some peo- 
ple are more selfish and lazy than others. Proof of this 
statement is found in a study of people's actions and mo- 
tives. 

I. Selfishness. This term as here used refers to 
people who act to satisfy Inward cravings of their being, 
but not necessarily to the detriment of others. Thus, the 
slum worker who leaves luxury and cleanliness and goes 
to years of labor amid filth and squalor Is often called 
" unselfish," when In reality the decision to accept these 
conditions results from a desire to satisfy the feeling of 
obligation or duty found in the innermost self. If the 
impelling motive was not heeded, satisfaction would not 
result. Even In this case, then, the desire to satisfy self 
plays a strong part, although it may justly be claimed 
that the reason for this motive is the wretched condition 
of a certain class of people. 

Again, a husband purchases a beautiful dress for his 
wife. People say he is an unselfish husband. In reality, 
he may be Intensely gratified by hearing men say, *' Look 
how he dresses his wife; he must be prosperous." Or, 
perhaps, the lover brings a box of candy or a bouquet of 
roses to his sweetheart. Self Is thereby satisfied and a 
feeling of exultation experienced which appears to bold 
advantage beside the alternative of not performing this 
act. 

If the salesperson can subtly indicate to the customer 
that self will be propitiated without evil consequences to 






88 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



» 






Others by purchasing certain goods, or that the pleasure 
accruing to others because of a purchase will satisfy self, 
a strong appeal will have been made to a fundamental 
trait of human nature. Customers may have been dis- 
satisfied with themselves for some time simply because 
they have failed to provide for some demand of their 
inner selves or for the wants of those whose welfare is 
intimately connected with their own. Here lies a strong 
motive for buying if the salesperson can but use It. If 
the longing to content self can be satisfied immediately by 
the purchase of goods, the salesperson should bring forth 
the " reasons why" this can be accomplished; and if the 
customer can be made to feel In her own mind the pleas- 
ure resulting from purchase, sales will the more easily and 
quickly be made. 

2. Laziness. The statement that all people are lazy 
may be thought by some to be an exaggeration. This is 
not so. Even the most energetic people are unconsciously 
looking forward to the end of the day's work — to the 
time when their duties will be less irksome. Most peo- 
ple while zmlling to expend effort to secure desirable ends, 
appreciate any person or device making the end attainable 
without the effort or with less effort. 

The average customer does not of course analyze mi- 
nutely why she likes to trade in some stores and dislikes 
other stores. The real reasons for such preferences rest 
on the apparently most insignificant acts of salespeople. 
The salespeople In one store may always bring the goods 
to the customer while in another place of business the 
customer may have to come to the goods. Or, possibly, 
in one store the customer is always carefully seated be- 
fore the goods are shown while in other business es- 
tablishments this act of the salesperson is omitted. 



KNOWING THE CUSTOMER 



89 



Again, perhaps the customer is promptly met in one 
store and judiciously escorted to the department where 
her needs can be most punctiliously satisfied, while In some 
other store a great deal of energy is lost in searching for 
the merchandise desired. The pleasure and satisfaction 
of the customer in all cases varies directly with the degree 
to which effort in buying can be eliminated. Fatigue, 
irksomeness and discomfort are distasteful to people, 
while rested bodies and mental comfort resulting from 
mtelligent service produce lasting favorable impressions 
of the store in the customer's mind. At a later time, 
when she is debating with herself as to where she will 
purchase, the favorable impression arising in her mind 
when thinking of a certain store may be the real cause 
for her making purchases in that store. Realization by 
salespeople that this all-powerful total impression that 
induces action is composed of many smaller impressions 
which they have had a part in the making, would tend to 
insure more careful handling of customers. One of the 
most favorable impressions that any store can make on a 
customer is the elimination of effort in buying, or at least 
its reduction to a minimum. 



CHAPTER V 
KNOWING THE CUSTOMER (continued) 

In the previous chapter likenesses of customers were 
considered. Elements common to all people were re- 
viewed in their relationship to selling goods. The pres- 
ent chapter has to do with the differences between custom- 
ers, the elements that make it possible to classify people 
into groups for purposes of selling appeal. Both phases 
of knowing human nature (likenesses and differences) are 
extremely important for the retail salesperson. 

Knowing the different types of customers is more often 
overlooked by the busy salesperson than is knowing the 
goods, possibly because the former knowledge is osten- 
sibly of a less tangible or more fanciful character than 
the latter. In reality, however, careful observation by 
the salesperson of the customers passing through her de- 
partment will reveal definite concrete information that 
can be used as a basis of selling appeals. 

At first sight, the many customers coming under the 
salesperson's observation may appear to be very similar 
in reaction toward sales talks, but after continued analysis 
dis-tinct types of individuals emerge from the mass and 
different methods of appealing to these different types 
present themselves. Emphasis must be placed on the 
necessity of analysis. Just as people very often do not 
see characteristics of goods which are in no way con- 
cealed, even though they are looking at these qualities, 

90 



KNOWING THE CUSTOMER 



91 



so people actually fail to see or understand human beings 
notwithstanding the apparently obvious nature of their 
attributes. Study or analysis of people, as well as of 
goods, precedes an understanding of them. 

It should be made clear at the start that it is impossible 
to classify all human beings between hard and fast limits. 
The different types of customers indicated at a subsequent 
place in this chapter d'o not adequately represent all peo- 
ple at all times but some people at any moment of time. 
In other words, a customer may be a certain type on one 
day and a different type at some other time. As en- 
vironment or physical well-being changes, temperament 
undergoes an alteration and may result in reconstruction 
of the human type. Illustrations showing how salespeo- 
ple may develop certain types of customers will be given 
later. Enough has been said at present if the salesper- 
son realizes that human types are not necessarily stable 
although oftentimes such may be the case. 

In the last analysis, the present discussion is only valu- 
able for the salesperson if it indicates how to deal with 
the customer that stands before the counter today and 
does not theorize on how to deal with a hypothetical 
type that may appear tomorrow. Phrenology is omit- 
ted because its claims have long since been disproved. 
Character analysis is not emphasized because it harbors a 
large elem'ent of error and can be applied, even in its most 
simple aspects, only by those with training and power of 
nice discrimination. Thus, one writer on this subject 
says that an obstinate man usually has greater length 
between the chin and pate than between the hair line above 
the forehead and the nape of the neck. In what per- 
centage of cases this assertion holds true, the writer has 
been unable to ascertain; but it is self-evident that ob- 



92 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



stinacy, as a predominant characteristic In any customer, 
can be ascertained In a less cumbersome manner. The 
way customers act Is the basis for the classification of cus- 
tomers here presented. Disregarding coloring, stature, 
texture of skin, shape of head, etc., It is believed that the 
customer's uppermost feelings and characteristics will be- 
come evident to the salesperson by carefully observing 
modes of conduct. Obstinacy will express itself by cer- 
tain outward indications that are definite and can be re- 
lied upon. Deliberatlveness, impulsiveness or other pre- 
dommating traits can likewise be discovered without ap- 
peal to the bumps on the customer's head. What are the 
most common types of customers and how they can be 
discovered and appealed to will now be considered. 

I. The Impulsive or Nervous Customer. The im- 
pulsive customer acts In response to her feelings which 
are uppermost In her. Her emotions are easily aroused 
and lead directly to action unless they are allowed to cool 
off. As a result, the Impulsive customer must be rushed. 
When desire has once been created it must quickly be 
developed Into decision, otherwise the feelings will be- 
come less intense and Incapable of Inducing action. Such 
types are very often " talked out of a sale " by uncom- 
prehending salespeople. 

As an Illustration of what is meant is the story of 
Mark Twain's attendance at a missionary meeting. 
After listening to the missionary's plea for half an hour 
Mark decided that he would give a dollar to the cause 
when the collection plate came around — but the man 
kept on -talking. At the end of three-quarters of an 
hour Mark decided that he would give only fifty cents. 
At the end of an hour he decided that he would give noth- 
ing; and finally, when the collection plate did come around 



KNOWING THE CUSTOMER 93 

at the end of an hour and a half, Mark reached in and 
took out a dollar to recompense him for his inconvenience. 

The impulsive customer is recognizable by means of 
her actions. She walks into the store in a quick, some- 
times jerky manner. Her eyes are keen-looking; her 
expression is intense, oftentimes appearing strained. Her 
attitude Indicates that she is In a hurry. She wants 
service now and appears fidgety until she gets it. This 
type commences sentences without finishing them and 
gives the impression that actions are initiated without 
consideration as to what they were intended to accomplish. 
Abruptness In speech and actions is characteristic of the 
impulsive customer. 

How should this kind of person be approached and 
handled by the salesperson? Only too often the writer 
has seen this type approached In a slow Indifferent man- 
ner. The sales talk has gone into detail and been dragged 
into great length. The customer has fidgeted and be- 
come impatient. In short, In such cases the salesperson 
has failed to understand the nature of the customer and 
has antagonized instead of attracted. The salesperson 
has failed to create an environment around the customer 
favorable to selling; for it must be remembered that it 
IS within the possibilities of the salesperson to create the 
conditions under which goods are sold. The light, heat, 
fixtures and other conditions for selling may be favorable 
but all of these may be offset by an unsympathetic atmos- 
phere created around the customer by the salesperson's 
methods. In such cases as these, sales talks and sales 
methods have not been individualized. They have be- 
come standardized for all customers. 

The impulsive customer must be approached promptly 
and what she desires must be quickly ascertained (not by 



I 






94 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



asking questions) and found. As a rule no detail can 
be considered, but the principal selling points must be 
given in one, two, three order. The salesperson's man- 
ner must be alert, giving the customer the impression of 
activity. Any signs of uneasiness on the part of the cus- 
tomer should be quickly noted and new methods used to 
secure interest. Oftentimes this type likes those sales- 
people best who talk as rapidly as they do, but care must 
be taken not to augment the natural nervousness of the 
customer by too excited Inquiry or talking. The least 
amount of friction possible should be the salesperson's 
aim in securing size, price, color, shape, etc., desired. To 
ask questions of this type very often disorganizes their 
unstable temperaments and creates impatience and gen- 
eral dissatisfaction. If the '' machinery of selling " can 
be kept In the background, so much the better, because 
irritation is easily produced. 

At this point the salesperson is no doubt wondering 
how some merchandise can be sold without asking ques- 
tions. A hosiery salesperson presented the following 
problem to the writer: "I am selling men's, women's 
and children's hose. There are many different sizes of 
each as well as a variety of colors. When a customer 
comes up to the counter how can I know what to show 
her without asking questions?" Only apparently was 
this a difficult problem. From questioning the salesper- 
son it was found that in a majority of cases the customer 
desired women's hose, color black, size nine. Of course 
in any particular case the salesperson could not be cer- 
tain that black, women's hose, size nine was desired, 
but (and this is the important fact to note) if this kind 
of hose was presented to every customer, the salesperson 
would be right in a majority of cases — and without ask- 



KNOWING THE CUSTOMER 



95 



ing questions. In such case, the customer Is impressed 
with the ease of buying — the absence of mechanism. 
Where something different than is being shown is de- 
manded, the customer loses little time in voluntarily mak- 
ing known her needs; and what is more, the latter feels 
that she should have stated her needs instead of forcing 
the salesperson to work blindly. She does not condemn 
the salesperson for showing the wrong goods. Some 
drapery salespeople feel that it is necessary to ask ques- 
tions in order to ascertain customers' needs. It has been 
demonstrated that questions can be dispensed with, not 
only in this line but in many others, and to the benefit 
of all parties concerned. The salesperson who can as- 
certain needs without the use of direct interrogation is 
using a principle of salesmanship that is too often over- 
looked, especially in dealing with the Impulsive customer. 

Since feelings are the motive to action with the im- 
pulsive customer, these should be appealed to in the most 
effective manner at the start of the sale. Decision must 
be induced quickly when the emotions are most completely 
functioning, otherwise their impelling nature loses influ- 
ence over actions and the sale is lost. Long preliminaries 
must be dispensed with and the most vital selling points 
advanced in rapid succession. If the desire is created this 
type does not decide " to think it over " ; it acts. Because, 
however, sales talks to this type must be brief, the sales- 
person should not be led to think that they are easier to 
construct and carry out. More often the short sales talk, 
pregnant with vital interest, having eliminated all mean- 
ingless terms, phrases and details, is harder to develop 
and convey to the customer than the longer and less 
poignant sales talk adapted to other types. 

Because the impulsive customer is motivated by strong 



ill 



96 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



feelings and often buys on the spur of the moment, the 
salesperson has a responsibility In dealing with this type 
that does not exist to such an extent when selling other 
kmds of customers. Great care must be taken to be 
certain that the goods are adapted to the customer's wants 
and that they will be entirely satisfactory after the imme- 
diate enthusiasm for them has receded. Unless this Is 
done ''come backs" will be frequent from this type. 
Their desire for an article oftentimes disappears after 
reflection. If the salesperson can use reflection for the 
customer the latter usually appreciates it if it is done 
tactfully. It is easy to dispose of goods to impulsive 
people but selling them goods is another matter. Goods 
are not sold until they are consumed, hence a sale can 
only be justified If the goods give off lasting satisfactions. 
To completely visualize the future relationships between 
the goods and the purchaser is especially necessary when 
selling to an impulsive customer although it Is to be de- 
sired in selling to any type. 

2. The Deliberate Customer. This type is the oppo- 
site of the impulsive or nervous customer. The deliber- 
ate customer may have strong feelings but they are kept 
well under control. Purchases are made only after care- 
ful deliberation which views the proposition from differ- 
ent standpoints and weighs the advantages against the 
disadvantages. Hasty action and decision are distaste- 
ful, and any attempt by the salesperson to hurry the sale 
will be resented. Ideas make an effective appeal to this 
type only when they are advanced slowly and in logical 
order. Explanations may often be detailed. Often- 
times, even after careful consideration and when the 
mind is made up, this type will postpone action until It Is 
" doubly certain." Procrastination Is characteristic of 



KNOWING THE CUSTOMER 



97 



deliberative customers and nothing is gained by trying 
to rush them. They must have time " to think it 



over. 



»» 



How can this type be distinguished? Deliberate peo- 
ple are deliberate in their movements. They walk slowly 
and in a dignified manner. Their facial expression is 
calm, poised. Gestures are uncommon but if existing 
tend to be slow and inconspicuous. Extreme excitement 
or expressed enthusiasm are absent, as is also the tendency 
to jump at conclusions. Ability and willingness to listen 
to a long sales talk dealing with details, distinguishes 
sharply this type from the impulsive one. All of these 
external modes of conduct, from the moment the cus- 
tomer steps in the door until she is absorbed in the sales 
talk, have a meaning for the Intelligent salesperson and 
are Indicators of the correct method of handling. 

Only recently the writer witnessed an example of hand- 
ling this type in the wrong way. A deliberative man be- 
gan looking at hats half an hour before closing time in a 
men's furnishings store. After several hats had been 
tried on, one seemed to gain his interest. The salesper- 
son concentrated his efforts on this one for some time 
but although it was plain the customer admired this hat 
and desired it, he hesitated to decide. Finally, he re- 
marked, " Well, I will think it over and come in and see 
you tomorrow." The salesperson who up to this time 
had not been especially aggressive now became conspicu- 
ously desirous of getting an immediate decision. He ex- 
plained reasons why decision should not be postponed 
and attempted to rush the sale. Suddenly, picking up his 
hat, the customer exclaimed, " I guess I don't want a 
hat," and left the store. The writer followed him, in- 
troduced himself and asked how he liked the store. He 



98 



t 






RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



replied, ** Oh, the store may be alright, but they always 
seem to rub a fellow the wrong way." 

Here is one case among many where the salesperson 
failed to create an environment around the customer fa- 
vorable for sales. The store was a good store carrying 
excellent lines, but human nature, the big element for 
which the store existed, was not understood. Methods, 
admirable when used on an impulsive customer, proved 
to be disastrous when applied to the deliberative type. 
If the salesperson had understood the workings of this 
customer's mind he would have realized that the chances 
were greatly in favor of the return of the customer next 
day, and that urging and rushing would be dangerous 
tactics to use. As it was, the salesperson blamed the 
customer for wanting to get out of the store without 
buying, while the customer felt that the store was alto- 
gether too anxious to get his money regardless of service 
rendered. 

Salespeople often " wait " for customers of this type 
to buy when in reality the customer is " waiting " for the 
salesperson to sell. A most pitiful scene in a retail store 
IS to see a salesperson give two or three selling points to 
this type and then " wait." Very often the selling points 
given are only generalities. The deliberate customer's 
mind cannot decide until enough Information has been 
given to enable a buying judgment to be formed. Here 
is an opportunity for the Salesperson to give the history, 
make, construction, style, design and other information 
about the article. Usually such knowledge will be in- 
tently listened to. The customer must be helped to de- 
cide by providing material on which a logical decision may 
be based. Reason must be fed; feelings are in the back- 
ground. If there are logical reasons why the deliberate 



KNOWING THE CUSTOMER 



99 



customer should buy, she will buy if these are pre- 
sented. But these reasons must exist for her — in her 
mind — and not merely in some one else's. If embar- 
rassment before this type is not to ensue, it is imperative 
that the salesperson should know all about the goods. ^ 

With adequate knowledge at one's command it is easy 
to interest and sell the deliberate customer. She is at- 
tentive and anxious to see the real value of the goods. 
She is appreciative of the salesperson who is patient and 
painstaking in the presentation of the facts, and who al- 
lows her the freedom of decision at a later time if she 
cares for it. With a little tact and study the deliberate 
customer can be made a permanent customer, even though 
goods are not always sold on the day that they are looked 
at. The point to be remembered is, this type is thinking^ 
not jumping at conclusions; and if the store, the sales- 
person and the goods are all right, little fear need exist 
that trade will not be secured. With the impulsive type, 
however, sales are made on the basis of Immediate im- 
pressions, not on subsequent reasoning; and unless a sale 
is made when the customer is before the salesperson it 
will not be made later. Ready adaptation to these op- 
posite types of customers is the mark of the efficient, 
scientific salesperson. 

3. The Vacillating or Indecisive Customer, This type 
has great difficulty in making decisions. Even though an 
object Is intensely desired and is capable of being pur- 
chased by the vacillating customer, hesitation ensues and 
often indefinite postponement of decision. Going for 
an evening stroll this type sometimes has difficulty in 
deciding which direction to go or which fork of a road 
to take. In fact, decision to the vacillating person is 

^See Chapters II and III. 



lOO 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



painful. This is so because it consumes a great deal of 
energy; for anything that is not naturally accomplished 
takes effort to perform. Unconsciously, friends decide 
numerous everyday problems for this type, which if left 
to them for decision would entail much irksome effort. 
Because of this unrealized service performed, vacillating 
people admire the more positive types who have some- 
thing they lack, viz., power of decision. Unlike the de- 
liberative type, vacillating customers do not postpone de- 
cision because they want to think over the proposition 
from all viewpoints, but rather because they cannot de- 
cide. The ability to make the will function is here lack- 
ing; further thought on the subject may only tend to 
impress the vacillating type with its own weakness. 

The vacillating customer can oftentimes be singled out 
before she gets to the counter. Indecisiveness of the 
mind expresses itself through the actions. Bodily move- 
ments are somewhat aimless; the manner is undecided 
and wavering; the facial expression is timid and apprehen- 
sive. The whole impression given is one of hesitation. 
This kind of a customer does not quite know just which 
department she wishes to go to first, and in case she starts 
toward one, a second later she may decide to retrace her 
steps and go to another. 

In case the salesperson has not had an opportunity to 
observe the customer before the latter gets to the counter, 
quick observation will disclose at least some of the char- 
acteristics of the vacillating customer. The latter shifts 
from one article to another making it more difficult for a 
decision to be formed. She does not seem to respond as 
readily to the sales talk as do the deliberative and im- 
pulsive types. She often seems somewhat afraid of the 
salesperson and the goods, as if foreboding some trouble. 



KNOWING THE CUSTOMER 



lOI 



When the time comes to close the sale this type shows 
an inability to decide between different goods or to pur- 
chase at all. Such customers give the impression that 
they lack confidence in their own judgment, and naturally 
such a feeling tends to further impair their will power. 

The reader has no doubt deduced from the foregoing 
the proper method of dealing with the vacillating cus- 
tomer. Decide for her. Do for her what it is not nat- 
ural for her to do. Supplement her personality with 
yours. And yet do this without it being evident. Per- 
haps this seems difficult to accomplish but it is not neces- 
sarily so. The writer has seen some very intelligent 
methods used in retail stores to accomplish this desired 
end. In the first place, concentration of attention must 
be secured, which means the elimination of all goods ex- 
cepting those especially desirable for the customer's needs. 
Next, an interesting, convincing, but not too aggressive 
sales talk on the articles exhibited brings the customer 
one step nearer the sale — from indecision between differ- 
ent articles, to indecision whether or not to buy at all 
the one most desirable. Some methods commonly used 
to get the vacillating customer to make up her mind are : 

(a) placing the goods aside as if decision had been made; 

(b) beginning to make out the sales check; (c) asking 
some question that will imply decision has been made, as, 
"How many yards will you require?'* "Have you a 
charge account or do you wish to pay for it?'' "Will 
you take it with you or shall we send it? " (d) beginning 
to measure goods, placing them in the parcel-carrier, or 
starting to wrap them up. 

Such devices for inducing decision are very effective in 
getting the vacillating customer to purchase, but they 
must be used with care. The salesperson should be quite 



102 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



if 



\ i 



It 



i 



certain of the type. A customer not at all of this inde- 
cisive type, when asked by a salesperson, " How many 
yards did you say you would need?*' replied spiritedly, 
" I didn't say that I needed any yards." The obstinate 
or more positive types resent keenly any attempts on the 
part of salespeople to decide for them. If the sales- 
person feels that she must decide for these types she must 
do so in a way that will not be apparent. A wrong diag- 
nosis of a customer often causes more friction than if 
no diagnosis had been made, yet this is no reason for the 
elimination of diagnosing human nature. It merely 
means that great care should be exercised In applying some 
methods of selling when the salesperson is uncertain as 
to the type. Mistakes are certain to be made but it is 
far better to learn human nature even though some er- 
rors are encountered in the process than to standardize 
human nature and deal with customers in a cut and dried 
fashion. The latter method is only too often used and 
is unfortunate not only in that it encourages friction in 
selling but because it makes selling monotonous, mechan- 
ical and lacking in spirit. Variety of action produces 
pleasure, and pleasure develops enthusiasm — one of the 
most valuable qualities in any work. Decide on the type 
and then apply the rules. 

If the salesperson understands the vacillating person's 
make up, there will be no hesitation in deciding for the 
customer or in using some device to produce decision. To 
wait for this type to decide is to cause dissatisfaction. 
The vacillating customer is accustomed to having people 
decide for her and unless they do she has a feeling of help- 
lessness. She obviously must purchase goods somewhere, 
and the store that will secure her business is the one where 
it is made easy for her to buy, where less irksome effort 



KNOWING THE CUSTOMER 



103 



is necessary. Customers go to stores where the environ- 
ment is favorable for buying; and when different types of 
customers trade at every store, part of the environment 
(that produced by the salespeople) must be changed to 
meet the different demands (conscious or unconscious) of 
the various types of customers. Selling environment 
must be capable of change if it is to be uniformly effective. 
4. The Confident or Decisive Customer. The oppo- 
site of the indecisive, vacillating customer is the deci- 
sive, confident customer. This kind of customer, in 
her own estimation at least, knows what she wants 
and all about the goods. Perhaps she has found her- 
self fortunate in the past when relying upon her own 
judgment; possibly in some cases she has discovered that 
she knew more about goods than the people selling 
them. A certain cock-sureness has thus developed that 
dominates her actions. She will not tolerate sales- 
people who assume to know more than she does, 
neither will she be dictated to by them. She prides 
herself on her cleverness and is offended if salespeople 
do not recognize her merit. Overconfidence is the dom- 
inant characteristic of the confident customer, which, for- 
tunately for the salesperson, leaves her off her guard and 
opens up vulnerable avenues of approach that should be 
eagerly attacked. This feeling of security is a variety 
of vanity ^ which seeks recognition and suffers materially 
unless it receives rt. It is the duty of the salesperson to 
satisfy this craving in a manner that will make buying a 
pleasure. 

The confident customer can be distinguished by her 
bearing and attitude. She walks into the store as a gen- 
eral would march into the camp of a defeated enemy. 

1 See page 68. 



I 



I04 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



She has an assurance In her manner and a general ap- 
pearance that Indicates hopefulness and confidence In her- 
self. When looking at merchandise this type usually has 
decided views and no reluctance In stating them. The 
confident customer enjoys taking the Initiative away from 
the salesperson and telling what she knows about the 
goods. She exhibits pleasure when the salesperson asks 
her " opinion '' on any matter. 

This type is one of the easiest to sell. Subtle flattery 
and agreement with what they have to say gives them 
pleasure and makes It easy for them to buy. Confident 
customers should be encouraged to tell the salesperson 
all about the merchandise and Its good qualities. Stim- 
ulated by smiles and respect for their opinions these cus- 
tomers will sell themselves the goods. Their advice 
should be solicited on any mooted point and everything 
said to minister to their self-esteem. Let them express 
any Information they may possess; they will feel better. 
A salesperson should never argue or dispute the statement 
of any type of customer, especially not of this particular 
type. Such a course of action would prove suicidal. If 
the salesperson does know more about the goods than 
the confident customer the latter should not be disillu- 
sioned. Confident people do not like to be disillusioned. 

Sometimes salespeople forget their true function. In- 
stead of selling goods they attempt to reconstruct human 
nature. Illustrating this, a salesperson was heard to 
exclaim after a customer had left her department, " I 
took her down a notch or two; she thought she knew 
everything." It must be emphasized that people do not 
like to be " taken down." If they think they are of 
great account and their opinions are valuable, why should 
the salesperson attempt to make them think less of them- 



KNOWING THE CUSTOMER 



105 



selves? People do not take pleasure in thinking less of 
themselves; and it must be remembered that customers 
trade only where buying is the most pleasurable. No 
salesperson would think of stepping on the toes of a cus- 
tomer because the latter had big feet, neither would she 
hold a mirror before an unattractive customer and call at- 
tention to her apparent handicap. Why then should not 
characteristics of customers, which are just as much a part 
of them as their physical features, be shown due respect 
and consideration? To show lack of sympathy and re- 
spect for the customer's sensibilities is just as inconsider- 
ate as to inflict physical Injury, and what is most im- 
portant, loses sales. 

Too many salespeople would like to have customers 
" different " than they are. Many of us would prefer 
different conditions than those in which we labor. How- 
ever, it is not what we desire but what exists in reality 
that counts and should determine our methods of work. 
Perhaps confident customers should not be so confident, 
but what satisfaction does such an admission give the 
salesperson? It does not register sales; It does not bring 
promotion. The latter desirable ends can only be se- 
cured by selling goods under the conditions that exist, 
and to the different kinds of human nature found in cus- 
tomers. Adapting oneself to circumstances is the secret 
of the salesperson who successfully sells different types 
of customers. If buying can be made a pleasure for 
confident customers by letting them give their opinions, 
even though they may not know much about the merchan- 
dise, let them do so. The confident customer will sell 
herself If given half a chance. Do not stand in her way. 
Help her convince herself. 

5. The Talkative or Friendly Customer, The talka- 



io6 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



'li 



n 



tivc customer needs little description as she can be distin- 
guished by her friendly attitude and inclination to talk 
on many subjects. This type is closely allied to the pre- 
ceding one but differs in this respect, that she talks merely 
to be saying something rather than with a definite object 
in view. Also this type is more social and lacks the con- 
fidence of the former type. Being friendly by nature 
talkative customers buy where there is the most complete 
opportunity for expression of their feelings. They can- 
not bring themselves to trade at stores where gruff and 
unsympathetic salespeople wait on them. They must 
have an outlet for their personalities, and like other types 
desire to buy where buying is a pleasure. They desire a 
peculiar environment for their purchasing and the sales- 
person must create the kind of atmosphere desired. 

At first sight, it would appear that handling this type 
is an easy matter. In reality, however, it is often most 
diflicult. Not that it is difficult for the salesperson to 
reciprocate friendliness and sociability, for this is usually 
quite easy. The real difficulty in dealing with this type 
is to be friendly and yet sell the maximum amount of 
goods. Talkative customers, if given a chance, often 
talk themselves out of a sale. They change the subject 
of conversation abruptly and it takes a good deal of tact 
and determination on the part of the salesperson to get 
back to the selling talk. But this must be done, and with- 
out letting the customer know that it is being done. Dif- 
ferent salespeople use different methods for accomplish- 
ing this. One method is to give new unmentioned quali- 
fications of the merchandise as a sort of afterthought, 
such as, " By the way, I forgot to tell you, etc." Some- 
times this type of customer has a good deal of confidence 
in herself and if directed back to the subject will act like 



KNOWING THE CUSTOMER 



107 



the confident customer and use her talking ability to talk 
herself into a sale. The point to be emphasized is that 
the talkative customer's conversation must be unob- 
servedly controlled and directed into channels favorable 
to sales. Unless this is done, this type of customer will 
talk herself tired, thus producing unfavorable conditions 
for making sales. 

The salesperson selling this type needs a great deal of 
patience. The friendly customer must oftentimes be 
listened to on many topics before she can be induced to 
give attention to a sales talk. But this should be done 
since the prosperity of the business depends on the ability 
of the salespeople to keep customers satisfied and happy. 
It may take as long to sell the talkative customer as it 
does to sell the deliberative type, but it does not pay to 
encroach too much on what she has to say any more than 
it is profitable to rush the deliberative customer. But 
patience does not imply neglect of duty. The salesperson 
should be careful not to become too absorbed in what the 
customer is saying so as to overlook the necessity of 
planning the sales campaign and initiating it. The sales- 
person can do much constructive planning while appar- 
ently listening to what the customer has to say. If this 
is done, the first opening for a sales talk can be appropri- 
ately utilized and the conversation directed to the mer- 
chandise. Be friendly to the friendly customer but do not 
let friendliness defeat sales. Make sociability and talka- 
tiveness means toward sales and not ends in and of them- 
selves. 

6. The Silent or Indifferent Customer. This type is 
the reverse of the talkative customer. No matter how 
enthusiastic the salesperson and how interesting the sales 
talk, this kind of customer shows recognition of neither. 



io8 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



She is as silent as the Sphinx. It is especially difficult to 
handle such a situation intelligently because the salesper- 
son cannot know where to concentrate the sales talk. 
When customers enthuse or criticize the goods shown 
them, sales talks may be adapted to the demands of the 
situation. But when the customer says nothing, does 
not respond to the efforts to Interest her, the situation 
becomes more complicated. 

Since speech does not exist as a clew to the customer's 
likes and dislikes, other means of ascertaining desires 
must be discovered. Facial expression and actions may 
indicate merchandise most favored, as well as whether 
interest centers in quality, price, utility, beauty, etc. Bod- 
ily expressions should then be watched carefully, for 
where it is not customary for the mental process to dis- 
close itself in speech, it is probable that its nature will be 
exhibited on the face and in the eagerness with which 
some pieces of merchandise are handled as compared with 
others. 

This latter point is illustrated by a certain druggist 
who sells brushes. A man came into his store and asked 
to look at hair-brushes. The druggist brought out about 
a dozen, priced from one to five dollars. The customer 
picked them up one by one and then replaced them on the 
counter, the druggist all the while giving an interesting 
sales talk but the customer saying nothing. Finally, with- 
out any apparent reason for doing so, the druggist re- 
moved from the counter all excepting two brushes, a 
four and a ^vc dollar one. The sales talk was now con- 
centrated on these when presently the customer said, " I'll 
take this one," holding up the five dollar brush. These 
were the first words uttered by the customer with the 
exception of those asking to look at brushes. An ob- 



KNOWING THE CUSTOMER 



109 



server of this startling transaction stepped up to the 
druggist after the customer had left the store with his 
purchase, and exclaimed, " How in the world did you 
know which brushes he liked? " " That was easy," re- 
plied the druggist. " Do you see that fine white Ime 
painted across the counter? Well, the brushes the cus- 
tomer was most interested In he more reluctantly parted 
with, and placed them on the counter partly over the 
white line; while those he did not desire were placed 
completely on the other side of the white line, farthest 

away from him." 

Besides the observation of bodily expressions, the sales- 
person must break down the customer's reserve and make 
her talk without obviously appearing to do so. This 
can often be done by asking questions that require more 
detailed answers than " yes " and '' no." Perhaps the 
customer's opinion respecting the merchandise may be 
solicited. By such friendly inquiries this type of cus- 
tomer Is led out of her seclusion. Once having voiced 
an opinion it is easier for others to follow, and soon 
there is the usual give and take between buyer and seller 
which gives a clew to desires. Only in exceptional cases 
will a customer of this type openly insult the salesperson 
by refusing to answer a question. When this does occur 
the salesperson should overlook the apparent insult and 
proceed further to Interest the customer In the merchan- 
dise. Sooner or later, patient efforts to sell this extreme 
type will be rewarded. 

Unfortunately, silence on the part of the customer 
often antagonizes the salesperson or makes her unduly 
anxious or disheartened. This should not be the case. 
If the customer is silent by nature no insult is intended 
for the salesperson. Since human nature cannot be made 



no 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 




II 



over in the short space of time at the salesperson's dis- 
posal, the latter must deal with this type as she finds her, 
and not as she wishes her to be. This type, like all the 
others, must of necessity purchase goods, and she will 
go to that store where the environment produced by the 
salesperson is best adapted to her personality. Un- 
friendliness, exasperation, sourness or other negative qual- 
ities, if exhibited by salespeople, will not produce the en- 
vironment the silent customer likes. Adapting oneself 
to circumstances is one of the prime requisites of sales- 
manship. Only careful study of different situations can 
produce this desirable quality. 

Sometimes silence is not a natural trait but a defensive 
pose. Timid people or those afraid to give up too read- 
ily to salespeople's opinions may use silence as a guard 
against unwise buying. They are reluctant to concur too 
readily as they think it might affect their own judgment 
or possibly impair their interests. They do not want to 
appear too " easy." Professional buyers often pose thus 
in order to get a better price. 

It is safe to assume with this type as with others that 
they came into the store and to the department primarily 
because they considered buying. If such customers are 
afraid to let down the bars of their judgment and express 
their opinions, the salesperson should endeavor to con- 
vince them so thoroughly respecting the merchandise that 
their judgments will logically register in favor of the sales- 
person's presentation. No impatience should be exhib- 
ited because the customer has chosen to use this device, 
any more than disgust should be apparent if the customer 
is not cleanly, well clothed, or has some physical deform- 
ity. Customers have a right to their personalities. 



KNOWING THE CUSTOMER 



III 



Salespeople cannot and should not try to change them. 
They must adapt themselves to them. 

7. The Distrustful Customer, Some persons are la- 
boring under the impression that any one who tries to sell 
them anything is dishonest. Especially do they believe 
this of the retailer. These people come to a store in a 
watchful, distrustful frame of mind, and are constantly 
looking for attempts to cheat them. Perhaps this feeling 
of suspicion has arisen because they have been deceived 
in the past ; perhaps this attitude is natural. But whether 
this attitude comes from nature or environment makes 
little difference to the salesperson. All she is concerned 
with is the fact that it exists and must be tactfully dealt 

with. 

This type can usually be discovered by the cynical man- 
ner in which they inspect goods, and often by a sneer ap- 
pearing around the base of the nose and the lips when 
the salesperson makes statements regarding merchandise. 
Distrustful customers often walk in a stealthy way as if 
they were tracing down some clew to a murder. They 
have a tendency to pick out apparent flaws in the goods 
or inconsistencies in the sales talk. They pride them- 
selves on knowing the so-called *' tricks of the trade." 
Sometimes they will be frank enough to say that they 
do not believe the claims made for the goods. More 
often, however, this feeling will be expressed through fa- 
cial expression and the general attitude exhibited toward 
the salesperson and the goods. 

The distrustful person can be successfully sold by the 
use of several methods. In the first place, the customer 
must be inspired with confidence in the salesperson. One 
of the most effective ways of gaining this end is to state 



112 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 




II 



obvious facts In the description of the goods. Doing 
this causes the customer to agree. When she has once 
agreed with anything that the salesperson has said it is 
much easier for her to agree to something else less ob- 
viously true that may be said regarding the merchan- 
dise. Showing obvious facts in the description of goods 
thus forms the basis for future agreement — a most de- 
sirable end especially when dealing with a suspicious na- 
ture. In the second place, this type believes her eyes 
more than she does her ears. Hence, the sales talk should 
be supplemented by demonstrations. Prove, by using the 
merchandise, that it will do what is claimed for it. Bet- 
ter yet, induce the customer to test it herself. She will 
convince herself where others will fail. Unfortunately, 
demonstrations are not used enough with any type of cus- 
tomer but certainly not with the distrustful type. In the 
third place, bring In authority to substantiate your own 
assertions. Have some neighbor friends of the customer 
made some favorable comment regarding the goods? If 
so, the distrustful customer will believe them rather than 
the salesperson. Perhaps some noted authority has 
recommended the article and possibly this advice has ap- 
peared In some book, newspaper or magazine. All evi- 
dence of an Impartial nature should be presented in order 
to secure the customer's confidence. 

With an extremely suspicious customer a further more 
radical method may be used, especially at the beginning 
of the sales talk. This Is pointing out the more obvious 
defects in the goods, or admitting that the goods are not 
perfect In every detail. Such tactics are so unusual that 
the distrustful customer's mind is immediately disorgan- 
ized. The wind is taken out of her sails. What she 
was going to do herself the salesperson has done. If 



KNOWING THE CUSTOMER 



113 



imperfections that she would have overlooked are pointed 
out, the customer is extremely grateful and is soon won 
over to a thorough belief in the honesty of the salesper- 
son. Then, If the Imperfections are minimized by com- 
plete portrayal of the positive features, the customer's 
mind is diverted from the negative considerations and 
sales can be made. Confidence is the only basis for 
sales, and if it does not exist in a customer it must be 
produced. This bold method of producing confidence 
in the minds of distrustful customers has often been used 
effectively by the writer. The suspicious customer is 
easily sold by the method of showing the worst side first. 
As stated elsewhere, ascertain the type and then apply 
the rules. Results will be in proportion to the tact with 
which they are applied. 

As a rule, salespeople only reluctantly deal with sus- 
picious customers. They seem to take the customer's dis- 
trust as a personal insult. They resent the suspicious 
attitude. The only result of such actions is to make the 
customer more suspicious. When this type of customer 
is not sold she often comes to the unwarranted conclusion 
that she did not buy because of traces of trickery. In 
reality, all that she may have found was an inefficient 
salesperson, but that does not help the matter. She goes 
to some other store where she can get the pleasant sensa- 
tion of buying and being satisfied. The salesperson 
should always remember that the suspicious customer will 
be sold by somebody. 

There are many other types of customers but the ones 
given are the most common and easily recognized. As 
already Indicated, the salesperson should be careful not 
to consider these types always distinct and as represent- 
ing certain people at all times. Some customers are im- 



/ 



114 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



I 



k 



i 



pulsive when buying inexpensive merchandise but delib- 
erative when contemplating a larger purchase; some are 
impulsive in the morning and deliberative toward eve- 
ning; some are impulsive or deliberative as dictated by 
other conditions. Again, a customer may be suspicious 
in one store but not in another, with some salespeople 
but not with others in the same store. Deliberative, 
impulsive and other types may show strong evidences of 
suspicion under certain circumstances. Still further, a 
customer may be a confident type in a department where 
she is intimately acquainted with the goods but may ex- 
hibit vacillating characteristics in other departments. 

Thus it IS seen that conditions of environment, physical 
well-being, size of purchase, time of day, former experi- 
ences, etc., may alter people's feelings and change their 
predominating characteristics of action at any moment of 
time. People are often combinations of types, and yet 
notwithstanding this fact it is still important to remember 
that distinct types do exist. Some customers are funda- 
mentally vacillating at all times, or confident, or impul- 
sive. The important lesson for the salesperson to re- 
member is this: that no matter what type a customer has 
been in the past or will be tomorrow she is a distinct 
type now, and what type she represents can be distin- 
guished by her actions. 

In conclusion, salesmanship may be said to be the crea- 
tion of an environment around a customer favorable for 
selling. It is making buying pleasurable for customers 
by dealing with them as their individual characteristics 
dictate. Salesmanship is conditioned upon ready ad- 
justment of sales methods to widely differing types of 
customers. It is in reality adjustment to circumstances, 
which constitutes service. The ability to create this 



KNOWING THE CUSTOMER 



115 



environment or adjustment is secured through careful 
and painstaking study of human nature. The store 
should be considered a school where opportunities are of- 
fered salespeople to make such a study and to secure an 
intimate knowledge of human nature. Without such 
knowledge the salesperson can never hope to advance far 
in her profession. 



ii 



lil^ 



CHAPTER VI 

ELEMENTS OF PERSONALITY 

Personality is that which constitutes distinction of per- 
son. It Is a composite thing made up of many qualities, 
negative In some persons, positive In others and a com- 
bination of both In still others. Personalities in which 
negative qualities or traits predominate are of little use 
to society. They represenrt the failures in life : criminals, 
insane and degenerates. Personalities In which the posi- 
tive qualities predominate are reflected In the people 
around us, those who are more or less successful In their 
respective occupations. The person completely domi- 
nated by positive qualities Is the most complete success. 

To become the most complete success In her calling by 
the development of personality, is the privilege and duty 
of every salesperson; privilege, because the salesperson 
cannot get the most out of life either in material or im- 
material satisfaction without a deeply and broadly de- 
veloped personality; duty, because the employer has a 
right to expect not only efficient service but service ever 
incrensing in efficiency. The salesperson unwilling to de- 
velop her personality will soon go into the discard, at 
least so far as positions in first class stores are concerned. 
There is no such thing as standing still In personality. 
Either progress Is being made or else there Is retrogres- 
sion. A store with progressive ideas realizes this funda- 
mental truth and cannot afford to keep within its organi- 

ii6 



ELEMENTS OF PERSONALITY 



117 



zation any elements of decay lest the infection of stag- 
nation spread throughout Its entire system. Develop- 
ment is the law of modern business and progress. 

An attractive and business-getting personality is a com- 
position of three factors: neat, clean, attractive dress; a 
healthy body; and a combination of certain positive qual- 
ities or attributes, viz., enthusiasm, honesty, tact, self- 
command, courtesy, cheerfulness, promptness, memory, 
sympathy and initiative. The first two factors while very 
important cannot be considered in this book, but the 
last one, separated into its component parts, is here 
taken up for discussion. 

ENTHUSIASM 

Enthusiasm In a salesperson Is the quality that makes 
her give her sales talk In an intense and earnest way that 
carries conviction. The enthusiastic salesperson spon- 
taneously overflows with confidence in herself, and belief 
In the goods and the satisfactions they hold for the cus- 
tomer. Confidence can only be secured by knowledge: 
knowledge of one's own ability, of the customer, of the 
goods, and of the selling process. 

Enthusiasm based on confidence begets confidence and 
enthusiasm in the customer. It Is contagious. The 
salesperson with enough confidence in her goods and her- 
self to become enthusiastic, soon brings others to see her 
point of view. Sincerity, reflected by enthusiasm, is im- 
pressive and will command the attention and respect even 
of customers unable to share In her belief. 

Enthusiasm backed by facts is a combination of the 
spiritual and the material. The latter lacks life without 
the former while the former is hollow hypocrisy without 
the latter. Enthusiasm cannot be faked. Without a 



ii8 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



background of knowledge and belief it stands forth in all 
its shallow futility. Counterfeit enthusiasm can never 
pass for the genuine for it lacks in weight, sound and ap- 
pearance. A salesperson who attempts to be earnest 
and eager in her sales talk will fool no one excepting her- 
self. Only by intelligent observation, reflection and 
study can the salesperson create a harmonious background 
for the efficient functioning of enthusiasm. 

Not only does enthusiasm stimulate self-respect and 
enhance the customer's esteem for the salesperson, but it 
also develops loyalty for the house and its methods. To 
be loyal to a sales institution a salesperson must have con- 
fidence in its integrity and belief in its policies. Enthu- 
siasm developed from knowing the goods will go far to- 
ward developing loyalty to the house that handles those 
goods. Further knowledge regarding the store's history, 
its aims and ambitions, will generate new enthusiasm 
which will form the basis for a broader and stronger 
loyalty. 

Perhaps it is not too obvious to note that loyalty to a 
store can only be based on its honest and square dealing. 
Truthful advertising, honest representations by salespeo- 
ple and sympathetic treatment of customers' needs are 
some of the foundation stones for the building of the 
loyalty structure. Some firms that deserve it do not get 
it from all salespeople, but no firm that does not deserve 
it ever wins it from any salesperson. 

What is loyalty? It is devotion to the store's ideals 
and to those who are trying to realize them. It is a duty 
that each salesperson owes to the store for which she 
works, a duty based on knowledge of the complete service 
rendered to the community. A loyal salesperson will not 
adversely criticize the store, its methods, its rules or 



ELEMENTS OF PERSONALITY 



ri9 



policies before customers or the general public. She will 
not bemoan her lack of recognition by the store man- 
agement, realizing that merit is compensated when fully 
evident. She will do nothing to injure or neutralize her 
store's best interests even though such action may ap- 
parently be to her advantage. She realizes that to knock 
the store is to knock herself, since she is part of the store. 
All salespeople should have a feeling of admiration for 
the store in which they are working or else seek oppor- 
tunities elsewhere. Disloyalty can never be justified 
within an organization because sincerity would thereby 
be violated. Sincerity can only be preserved by with- 
drawing from any association the ideals or policies of 
which are contrary to one's dictates of right dealing. 
And, it must be remembered, sincerity is at the basis of 
enthusiasm; it of all qualities must be preserved. 

What has been said does not preclude helpful criticism 
of the store. This is always solicited by progressive 
managers and where it is not directly solicited by others 
its acceptability will be recognized if suflUcient tact is dis- 
played by the salesperson submitting it. Constructive 
criticism is the only kind of criticism of any value and 
this is of doubtful value unless called to the attention of 
those whose position equips them to profit by it. Loy- 
alty to the stores does not exclude this latter form of 
criticism — it demands it. 

Enthusiasm can be developed by making work enjoy- 
able. People are only enthusiastic about those things 
that create a pleasurable sensation in them, hence the 
necessity of removing the real or imaginary aspects of 
drudgery and monotony from sales work. Lack of in- 
terest or a feeling of monotony results when an operation 
becomes mechanical — when the salesperson becomes an 



I20 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



automaton. Automatism is the natural development of 
ignorance ; ignorance of store history, ideals and policies ; 
ignorance of inspiring facts about the goods; ignorance 
of any definite scheme of procedure in selling; ignorance 
of self-analysis. From such desert soil only hardy weeds 
can grow: lack of interest, a feeling that the work is 
monotonous, and general unhappiness. 

The only work that can truthfully be called monotonous 
is that which requires repeated effort of the same kind 
and quality without variation. Such is the operation of 
wrapping oleomargarine in the packing plants. Here 
a girl stands all day in one position and performs the 
repeated operation of taking cakes of oleomargarine from 
an endless bplt in front of her, putting each of them in a 
separate box taken from a receptacle at her right, and 
then transferring the package to another endless belt at 
her left. 

Work of such a monotonous character is unknown to 
the retail store. Here the chief factor is the human one 
which is the most variable of elements that any worker 
could deal with. Customers are different from each other 
and the same customers are different at different times; 
the salesperson herself partakes of the same characteris- 
tics; any article has innumerable talking points and sel- 
dom can two successive sales talks on the same article be 
identical because of the varying element — the customer; 
there are many qualities of the same article as well as 
many articles in any one department; multiply these 
possibilities for variety of action by all the articles in the 
store (where salespeople can sell out of their depart- 
ment) , and by all the different types of customers and the 
varying moods of each type, and by the changing mental 
and physical conditions of the salesperson herself — and 



ELEMENTS OF PERSONALITY 



121 



work with greater possibilities for variety of action and 
constant adjustment to new conditions cannot easily be 
imagined. 

Only does monotony exist in sales work when it exists 
in the mind of the salesperson, when she makes each 
operation, each selling talk, identical with every other 
one and regards all customers capable of similar hand- 
ling. When a salesperson disregards the possibility for 
variation of operation, the work does become monotonous 
for her, but she Is not fair in calling her work monotonous 
in the usual meaning of the term. Paradise would be re- 
named by those unfitted to appreciate its happiness. 

To adapt one's self to one's environment, to vary one's 
operations where varying operations are necessary to ade- 
quately meet conditions, to replace Ignorance by knowl- 
edge, to develop loyalty and faithfulness, are the privi- 
leges and duties of every salesperson, and are rewarded 
by material satisfactions but above all by happiness — the 
generator of enthusiasm. 

HONESTY 

Honesty is fairness and straightforwardness in con- 
duct, thought and speech. It Is the opposite of fraud 
and misrepresentation. A salesperson is honest when she 
IS fair in her dealings with the customer, upright with 
herself and trustworthy to her employer. Anything less 
than this trinity of honorable dealings cannot be called 
honesty. 

If salespeople were to critically analyze themselves 
for honesty in the light of the above definition, many of 
them who believed themselves entitled to a clean bill in 
this respect would be disappointed. Some of their com- 
mon modes of conduct would appear unfair to their em- 



1 

i:, 



1 



• 



122 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



ployer and to the customer while certain trends of thought 
would be recognized as unjust to their own development. 

A salesperson is not honest with her employer, the cus- 
tomer or herself if she is not efficient in her work. Some 
salespeople indicate by their actions that it is nobody's 
business whether or not they are experts in their line. 
Only a few shoe salespeople that the writer has met 
seemed to think it their duty to know something about 
the construction of the human foot. Because of such an 
attitude many persons are ill-fitted; they are unfairly 
dealt with; they have paid for service but have not re- 
ceived It; in other words, they have been deceived. Of 
course, in a great many cases the public have learned 
through experience not to expect expert service in retail 
stores and if they do not receive it are not disappointed. 
However, a large portion of this class have ceased to buy 
from the retailer where they have had to pay for some- 
thing that was not given them, and instead have become 
purchasers from mail order houses where prices are lower 
because the services of ( i ) letting the customer see and 
handle the goods, (2) telling her all that she wants to 
know about the article, (3) expertly fitting garments to 
her individual peculiarities, and (4) prompt delivery, 
cannot be offered because of the nature of the business — 
and are not expected by the customer. With all these 
handicaps, still the mail order houses have built up a repu- 
tation for honesty and fairness because they have given 
what they represented to give whether little or much. 

Nevertheless, two-thirds of the people in the United 
States still patronize the retailer in the hope that they 
will get the service that they pay for and for which they 
long. Hence it is to be assumed that if any customer 
does not receive the facts wished for, or fails to get the 



ELEMENTS OF PERSONALITY 



123 



fit desired, she is disappointed and feels that the store 
has not treated her fairly, that is, has not been honest 
with her; since by hypothesis, she would not be a retail 
customer if she were not anticipating and ready to pay 
for some services other than those given by the mail 
order houses. To keep faith with the customer who 
wants service and is willing to pay for it, is the duty of 
the salesperson. She cannot be considered honest in the 
fullest meaning of the term unless she does so. 

Besides dishonesty due to lack of knowledge and skill, 
which robs the customer of service and reacts unfavorably 
upon the store and salesperson, is the dishonesty arising 
from idleness on the part of salespeople. Gossiping, 
lounging and loitering seem to be the pastimes of some 
salespeople between sales. Although they are hired to 
work the entire period between certain hours each day, 
one would think, to see their utter relaxation and aban- 
donment after each sale, that they were hired to work 
only when a customer appeared before them. The stock 
for these reasons is not kept arranged and in good order, 
shortages are often overlooked, cleanliness becomes 
subordinated to matters of lesser importance, and many 
other errors are made, any one of which would result in 
injustice to the customer, unfaithfulness to the store, and 
so far as bad habits of conduct are developed, injury to 
the salespeople themselves. 

The kind of dishonesty usually thought of in regard 
to retail stores is that of misrepresentation of goods. 
Misrepresentation may be intentional or unintentional 
and may be concerned with the manufacture, construc- 
tion, purpose, operation, composition or durability of 

any article. 

Whether the misrepresentation is intentional or other- 



ii 






124 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



wise — the effect on the customer is the same. When 
the truth is ultimately ascertained from use of the article, 
distrust of the store and the salesperson results. From 
the standpoint of the customer, if the salesperson did not 
know the facts she should not have practiced deception by 
giving an appearance of knowledge in order to tide over 
an immediate embarrassment. Far better would it have 
been for her to have exhibited ignorance than to have 
bluffed. On the other hand, if the salesperson inten- 
tionally misrepresented in order to effect a sale, when 
the facts become known as they always do, the extent of 
the repulsion on the part of the customer for the store 
can hardly be realized. Thus it is seen that misstate- 
ment or misrepresentation of facts, intentionally or un- 
intentionally done, amounts to about the same thing for 
the customer because she is the loser thereby; and the 
salesperson can justly be condemned in either case al- 
though from an impartial standpoint not to the same 
degree. But it must be remembered that the customer 
is not as a rule " impartial '' but is willing to impute ul- 
terior motives to the salesperson. Expert knowledge is 
necessary to avoid " an appearance of evil." 

Misrepresentation of construction has caused many 
disgruntled customers and destroyed millions of dollars 
of good will. A customer inquired from a furniture 
dealer the price of a mahogany bed-room suit that was 
displayed in the window. She was told that it sold for 
$135.00. On being asked whether the suit was all-ma- 
hogany, the salesperson replied that a solid mahogany 
suit could not be purchased for that price ; that the side 
rails and Inconspicuous parts of the chairs were birch but 
matched perfectly with the mahogany; that the mahog- 
any was a veneer but was so perfectly applied that it 






ELEMENTS OF PERSONALITY 



125 



could not be detected excepting by an expert; that it 
would last a life-time. The customer seemed a little 
disappointed on receiving this information as she thought 
the style of the furniture ideal and had made up her 
mind that it was a solid all-mahogany suit. Several 
days later the same customer returned to this furniture 
store and purchased the suit in question. She told the 
salesperson that she had gone to another furnltur-e store 
where a suit represented to be solid and all-mahogany 
was offered for $150.00. The customer was perplexed 
and believed that the salesperson in the first store had mis- 
represented the facts. To make certain she called up a 
friend who knew furniture and had him come down with 
her and decide on the case. The furniture proved to be 
veneered and supplemented by birch in inconspicuous 
parts. The customer was Indignant at the deception, 
and although the dealer protested that he had purchased 
it for solid mahogany she left the store after accusing 
him of intentional deception. Her friends soon heard 
of the affair and those who were customers of this store 
transferred their trade elsewhere. 

Another case of misrepresentation of construction was 
called to the writer's attention a short time ago. Two 
friends had purchased 14-inch lawn mowers from two 
different stores, one paying $6.00 and the other $8.50. 
Talking about their mowers some time later the prices 
were disclosed, the difference in price causing surprise and 
dissatisfaction on the part of the man who had paid the 
highest amount. After some reflection this man said, 
" But mine has ball-bearings." " So has mine," replied 
the. other, " because I asked the salesperson that ques- 
tion in particular. He didn't seem to know much about 
it but felt sure about the ball-bearings. In fact, I be- 



m 



126 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



lieve he said that all lawn mowers had ball-bearings." 
" Well, if he said that," returned the first man, " he was 
wrong. Let's take it apart and find out." So the mower 
was analyzed and found to be ball-bearingless. The 
lawn mower was returned and in spite of the fact that the 
retailer tried to explain away the mistake by saying the 
salesperson was " green," the customer never went back 
to that store. 

Cases innumerable could be related illustrating mis- 
representation of construction, always resulting in loss of 
customers' confidence and not only their patronage but 
often that of their friends. In respect to authentic in- 
formation regarding construction of goods, the mail or- 
der houses are far in advance of the average retailer. 
This reliability of statement is not voluntary on their 
part but is imposed by law since the mails transmit their 
sales talk and the mails cannot be used for misstatement 
or fraud. But whatever the reason, accurate statements 
regarding construction exist and are one of the chief rea- 
sons for the immense good will that these establishments 
have built up in the last few years. 

Misrepresentation of the purpose to which goods 
should be put results in useless purchases, misdirection of 
wealth, and suspicion of the store on the part of the cus- 
tomer. The salesperson should realize that in an effort 
to meet competition articles are frequently manufactured 
which are of fair value for the price asked but are ill 
adapted for some kinds of service. Oftentimes goods 
that have to stand wear and tear are of this class al- 
though their appearance and finish may fail to reveal the 
low grade quality. It is a great temptation for sales- 
people in handling goods of this character to omit tell- 
ing all the truth, especially when the customer is a doubt- 



ELEMENTS OF PERSONALITY 



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ful judge of the quality. When the truth about the goods 
does come out, however, as it usually does with use the 
customer feels that the store is deceitful and perhaps 
withdraws her patronage. The old maxim. Let the 
buyer beware," is becoming a thing of the Pf ' ^^^^^^ 
sooner the better for all parties concerned with the seUing 

transaction. . . 

A common illustration of misrepresentation of purpose 

is that of selling silk shirts and other silk goods where 
the impression is given that the higher price is paid for 
greater durability, when in reality this material does not 
wear as well as cottons of cheaper price. These articles 
should be put on a ^' style " basis, i. e., explanation should 
be made that the attainment of distinction in dress costs 
money just as does the realization of durabihty. If such 
care is taken no misunderstandings of customers wil 
occur. Each customer will be called upon to decide what 
function she desires the goods to fulfill, and then goods 
capable of meeting the exact needs can be sold. 

Misrepresentation of purpose often results ^^om fail- 
ing to state conditions under which the article should be 
used Thus, a customer came into a hardware store and 
said to the salesperson, '' I want a can of green paint. 
The salesperson procured a can of green paint, wrapped 
it up and delivered it to the customer. It failed to give 
satisfaction and the store was forced to admit its negli- 
gence. The salesperson should have asked what the 
paint was for : window blinds, kitchen floor, porch chairs 
or something else. It should have been realized that 
the store was not selling a can of paint alone, as was 
supposed, but also service. The realization by salespeo- 
pie that goods cannot be separated from service would 
mean a revolution in present day retaihng. The store 



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and Its sales force would be given a new standing In the 
community -a standing as high as the professions; 
more goods would be sold by a fewer number of sales- 
people; wages would be higher, with lower selling costs- 
hence prices would fall enabling more universal consump- 
tion of the newer luxuries as well as the necessities of 
life; and finally, the lower prices of commodities of 
every-day consumption would mean greater general wel- 

fare and happiness — the goal of all far-sighted 
effort. 

Misrepresentation of operation Is illustrated by the 
following case. A woman was debating with herself in 
a department store whether or not to buy a washing ma- 
ctiine. Her indecision was quickly transformed into de- 
cision to buy when the salesperson said, '' It Is so easy to 
work that a child can run it." Sometime later her hus- 
band remarked, ^' It takes a child the size of a man to 
move It The injustice caused by the exaggerated state- 
ment of the salesperson was a fresh sore for a long time. 
It healed up only when the salesperson left the store 
where the machine was purchased. 

Another case of an error of this nature transpired not 
long ago in a large department store. A customer was 
examining an aluminum coffee pot with a percolator con- 
srsting of a long cylindrical sieve resting loosely inside of 
another cylindrical sieve with a bottom. On being asked 
where the coffee should go, the salesperson remarked, 
The coffee goes inside and the water is poured around 
It.'' The customer purchased the utensil and had great 
expectations of the coffee it would make, but actual use 
proved It to be disappointing. The coffee was impossible. 
The customer believed that she had been swindled and 
brought the utensil back to the store for an explanation. 



ELEMENTS OF PERSONALITY 



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It turned out that the salesperson made a costly error 
in describing the operation of the percolator, for the cof- 
fee should have been placed in the outside cylinder and 
the hot water in the inside one. The explanation was 
sufficient to induce the customer to keep the coffee pot 
but her confidence in the salesperson and the store was 

weakened. 

Misstatement of composition is one of the most com- 
mon forms of every-day dishonesty in sales talks. ^ A 
salesperson was glibly describing a shoe in superlatives 
when he was asked whether the shoe was solid leather. 
Without hesitation he replied, "Yes." After a short 
period of wear the shoes exhibited fiber counters, paper 
insoles and the probabilities were that the boxing was 
composition as it rapidly lost its shape. The word of 
that salesperson will never be trusted again by this cus- 
tomer and although she would like to trade at this store 
because of its variety of stock, she hesitates to do so fear- 
ing that she will be waited on by this ignorantly deceitful 

salesperson. 

Representing three-fourths wool as " all-wool," fiber 
silk as " silk," seconds in leather as " firsts," part linen 
as " linen," etc., are all cases of misrepresentation of 
composition that most of the mail order houses do not 
make. Because of their use of the mails such misrepre- 
sentation would constitute " fraud," yet the retailer often 
fails to say that goods are three-fourths wool, or that 
leather goods are seconds, thereby laying himself open 
to the charge of fraud even though the law does not en- 
danger him. It would seem that if retailers are to com- 
pete successfully with mail order houses, they must adopt 
at least the same standards of square dealing as the latter 
use. Loss of retail trade in some quarters can beyond 



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doubt be partially attributed to the failure of retailers to 
recognize this important truth. 

Misrepresentation of durability often takes the form 
of misleadmg, mdefinite statements regarding the length 
of time that articles will last. This form of misrepre- 
sentation is illustrated by the novelty jewelry salesperson 
who on being asked how long a cheap gold plated brooch 
would wear, exclaimed, - Oh, a lon^ time." The em- 
phasis placed on the word " long " gave an entirely wrong 
implication. Such methods might make a few sales but 
they are short-sighted to say the least. 

Another salesperson, when asked if the finish on an 
aluminum tea pot would '' last,'^ replied reassuringly, " It 
will last forever if properly cared for.'' What '' prop- 
erly cared for " meant it is difficult to say, but any one 
who is acquamted with aluminum ware knows that if it is 
used constantly the polish is only momentary in life, but 
the metal although duller after use presents a clean, white, 
attractive appearance. A clear, comprehensive, intelli^ 
gent answer describing the merits of the metal would 
have sold the tea pot permanently and left good will; 
as it was, the tea pot was disposed of to the customer 
but not " sold," for it must be remembered that an article 
rs not sold in the most complete meaning of the term 
unless It brings daily satisfaction, I. e., meets the expec- 
tations of the customer, and the expectations of the 
customer are determined by Impressions left by salespeo- 
ple. In this case the customer had the Impression that 
the luster would remain on the tea pot, and when it grew 
dull even with the best of care, this article that should 
have been a source of constant pleasure If rightly sold, 
became in reality a perpetual cause of annoyance and 
dismay. Dollars of good will had been destroyed by a 



ELEMENTS OF PERSONALITY 



131 



Single unintelligent statement of the salesperson. Pro- 
duction of good will, not ill will, is the privilege and duty 
of every salesperson. 

Oftentimes the word " guaranteed " Is used in a loose 
meaningless way without indicating for what period or 
under what conditions. Again, the phrase, " it will last 
a life-time " Is open to question. Does it mean the Bib- 
lical three score years and ten or the balance of the pur- 
chaser's life, or what? Still further, the phrase, " It will 
last as long as you will want it " often gives an Impression 
of durability that is not justified. If a definite term of 
life is attributed to an article by a salesperson she should 
indicate the readiness of the store to put the guarantee in 
writing, especially if the life of the article is a long one, 
since human memory is short and changes detrimental to 
the customer might occur. 

Statements comparing the durability of two different 
articles, such as, " this piece of goods will wear longer 
than that," should be backed up with evidence which the 
customer can analyze and use for self-conviction; then if 
the goods prove to be disappointing the customer will feel 
that she purchased them with her eyes open — on her 
own judgment, and not on that of the salesperson. Es- 
pecially in sales talks respecting articles the durability of 
which is the most Important factor, great care should be 
taken to make the customer see the " reason why " for 
claims that are made. When style is the chief considera- 
tion, what has just been said does not usually hold true 
as individual caprice must be appealed to and satisfied. 

Exaggeration is one of the many forms that misrepre- 
sentation takes. This may and often does concern each 
of the elements of commodities, such as durability, opera- 
tion, composition, etc. It is common for ignorant peo- 



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ELEMENTS OF PERSONALITY 



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pie, children and simple-minded folk to enlarge on what 
they actually see and exaggerate the facts in any situa- 
tion. It seems to be a common occurrence for salespeo- 
ple who know little about the goods they are selling, to 
artificially expand the minute information they do pos- 
sess. This Is true In all fields of activity; if we do not 
know why an article or phenomenon is good or bad, some 
superficial circumstance makes us decide either one way 
or the other and then we search our imaginations to find 
reasons to support our decision. In the case of sales- 
people, the superficial circumstance is the supposition that 
the goods are all right or they would not be in the store. 
That the goods may be all right under some conditions but 
unsatisfactory under others, or the fact that taking things 
for granted rather than ascertaining the " reason why " 
cannot develop an effective, to say nothing of a truthful 
selling talk, never seems to occur to many salespeople. 
The best remedy for exaggeration is knowledge based on 
careful analysis. Goods will then appear in their true 
light and not with distorted functions and false charac- 
teristics. 

The discussion on honesty may well be concluded by 
representing a certain procedure that Is dishonest al- 
though not always recognized as such by salespeople. 
This Is the practice called '' loading." Especially In the 
past was a salesperson considered clever if she could dis- 
pose of a large order of goods that were not wanted. 
Fortunately such ideas are becoming passe. Salespeople 
are becoming Impressed with the fact that it Is poor busi- 
ness to give the customer any cause for future regret. 
It Is more and more being realized that a customer Is not 
profitably sold if only sold once. The cost of getting a 
new customer into the store is great and can only be min- 



imized by dividing it over many sales to this customer. 
Furthermore, the significance attached to the term sale 
has undergone a radical change. Disposing of goods 
Is not necessarily selling goods. Goods are not success- 
fully sold unless they stay sold, i. e., unless they continu- 
ally give off satisfactions and during their entire lives give 
no reason for disappointment. 

This does not mean that the customer should not often 
be strongly urged to buy. The point is that the inter- 
est of the customer should be held paramount, and If this 
is faithfully done the interest of the store and its pros- 
perity will take care of Itself. The salesperson must see 
that the interest of all parties to the selling transaction 
are mutual and cannot be disregarded to the benefit of 
any one party to the sale. 

The difference between loading and not loading is il- 
lustrated by the following case. A certain customer en- 
tered a drug store to look at toothbrushes. After hav- 
ing decided to purchase one, the salesperson said, " Won't 
you take two of them? " " I guess one will be enough," 
replied the customer, feeling that the salesperson was 
trying to sell all he could. A short time afterwards the 
same customer was in another drug store in the same 
town looking at toothbrushes. " I surmise that you 
travel a good deal," Inquired the salesperson, after the 
customer had indicated his desire to purchase a tooth- 
brush. ** Yes," said the customer. " Well," continued 
the salesperson, " you know how it goes. A fellow puts 
the toothbrush on the shelf in the hotel bath-room and 
goes away and forgets It. Then when It is wanted, it is 
not to be had. Possibly several hours may elapse before 
the opportunity arises to get another one. Such Incon- 
venience can be avoided by carrying an extra one in your 



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case. You will always have one then." The customer 
purchased two toothbrushes and later on told a friend 
that he would have purchased six if the salesperson could 
have told him why he should purchase them. Here is a 
case where the salesperson worked out a logical reason 
why it was to the interest of the customer to buy more 
than one article. 

Suggesting that customers buy more goods than was 
their intention is not loading, if their viewpoint and satis- 
factions are always kept in mind. Unless this is done, 
suggestions to increase the number of articles sold 
amount to nothing more or less than begging. " Won't 
you take two," said a collar salesperson. Why should 
a customer purchase two? The implication was that 
the salesperson would like larger sales. A selfish view- 
point alone was prominent. Such a viewpoint defeats its 
own purpose. Unless salespeople can think of reasons 
why it is to the customer's interest to buy more goods, 
they should sell only what is asked for. Increasing sales 
by suggestion is only limited by the scope of the sales- 
person's ingenuity in finding reasons why it is to the in- 
terest of the customer to buy. 

All lines of goods have great possibilities in this di- 
rection. A certain collar salesperson is selling collars 
by the hox, and he says that it is easier to sell boxes of 
collars than it is to sell one or two collars. He has 
thought out three reasons why it is to the advantage of 
every man to buy collars by the box. This salesperson 
gets a high salary but the store manager says that he is 
cheaper than other salespeople receiving less. Some shoe 
salespeople sell two pairs of shoes where others sell only 
one. They have discovered why it is to the advantage of 
the customer to purchase two pairs of shoes instead of 



ELEMENTS OF PERSONALITY 



^ZS 



one. They are looking out for the interests of the cus- 
tomer and in such cases the salespeople's interests take 
care of themselves. Service to the customer is the only 
honest objective which justifies suggesting more goods 
than customers ask for. 

TACT 

" Tact," some one has said, " is to say the right thing 
at the right time." However, tact might be considered 
the saying and doing of the right thing at any time. It 
is the lubricant that keeps the selling wheels running 
smoothly. Tact guides salespeople around dangerous 
pitfalls and leads them triumphantly through critical situa- 
tions. Its presence Is not always perceived by customers 
but Its absence is readily recognized. 

Tact is nothing more nor less than " mental alertness," 
the ability to see a situation and adapt one's self to it. 
When customers are analyzed and the selling talk made 
to appeal to the most predominant buying motives, then 
tact has been used In adapting the selling talk to cir- 
cumstances. When sales methods are varied to meet the 
varied whims and temperaments of different people, 
tact has been displayed. Tact can only thrive in con- 
junction with other virtues such as cheerfulness, courtesy, 
patience, promptness, keen perception and the ability to 
decide quickly on the most expedient course to pursue. 
In fact, these attributes of personality are part of tact, 
the latter being non-existent without them. To have 
one's being in sympathetic vibration with one's fellow- 
beings, to see with their eyes, to hear with their ears, to 
think with their minds, to feel their feelings, is to be un- 
derstandingly atune with customers. If their point of 
view is considered in all cases, there can be no contro- 



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ELEMENTS OF PERSONALITY 




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versies and antagonisms which are disagreeable to all 
concerned, and unfortunately are only too common in 
present day retailing. 

Failure to use tact is usually due to lack of imagination. 
Tactless persons do not adequately visualize the complex 
results that arise from their unconsidered acts. They 
do not seem to be able to get out of themselves. They 
are, in fact, selfish, critical or contemptuous in attitude, 
any one of which qualities destroys the sympathy of under- 
standing. 

A man entered a men's ready-to-wear store and asked 
to look at suits. One suit in particular seemed to interest 
him. " That's certainly a fine cheviot," he remarked, 
stroking the sleeve of the coat. *' That's not cheviot," 
said the salesperson, going on to explain what it was ; but 
he was talking to deaf ears. The customer's interest in 
the goods was effectually killed by the tactlessness ex- 
hibited by the salesperson. In reality, the customer was 
wrong in his assertion — the cloth was not a cheviot, but 
apparently the salesperson could only rectify the error 
by antagonizing the customer. A tactful salesperson 
would probably have said, ** That's an excellent material 
and does look like a cheviot, in fact most people would 
take it for a cheviot. However, it is a . . . etc." 
Such a method of giving information " lets the customer 
down easy " and increases rather than decreases in- 
terest in the goods. The correction of mistakes can be 
forced unneutralized down customers' throats to their 
dissatisfaction and loss of interest, or it can be sugar- 
coated by tact and utilized as a factor in consummating 
a sale. The tactful salesperson never contradicts. 

A tactful salesperson is careful to avoid all argument. 
Argument stimulates the customer to think of and formu- 



137 



late objections to buying. It is antagonistic to sugges- 
tion. It places the salesperson on the defensive; makes 
her follow instead of lead. If continued for any length 
of time it may lead to alienation of the customer. A 
tactful salesperson does not handicap herself by encour- 
aging or being a party to an argument. She knows when 
to concede to statements made by customers and when to 
object; but the important thing to be remembered is, she 
knows how to object. 

Some personalities appear to be fundamentally and ir- 
reconcilably opposed to each other. The buyer and 
seller, the cogs in the selling machine, do not mesh, and 
friction occurs when the wheels of the selling machine 
commence to grind out sales. When such is the case, a 
tactful salesperson will relegate her own personality into 
the background as soon as possible, by interesting the 
customer in the goods and by avoiding any reference to 
herself. A tactless salesperson, who does not sense the 
reason for the cold attitude of the customer, would prob- 
ably commit the fatal blunder of attempting to warm her 
up and make her more genial. 

An instance of clashing personalities was experienced 
by the writer in a men's furnishings store. The sales- 
person " grated on " the customer from the first, making 
the latter sullen and unresponsive. The salesperson, 
misunderstanding the cause of the customer's attitude, 
attempted to jolly him into a better mood. Open offense 
was not taken at even such untactful methods; but when 
finally the salesperson took an attractive cravat and held 
it up against his own shirt front, commenting on its ap- 
propriateness to the customer, the latter became incensed 
at the invidious comparison and left the store disgusted. 
The worst thing that salesperson could have done was 



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ELEMENTS OF PERSONALITY 



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to have called attention to himself— and he did it. A 
tactful salesperson would have analyzed the situation 
and kept himself In the background, first of all getting the 
customer Interested In the merchandise. In other stores, 
the placing of a cravat against a salesperson's shirt front 
has made a " hit '' with the same customer because the 
former's personality has appeared attractive to the latter. 
A tactful salesperson knows when his personality is ad- 
mired and when Its Influence is negative. 

The existence of a mood cannot successfully be chal- 
lenged by a salesperson; its cause should be ascertained. 
If the reason for its existence Is not known there is danger 
that the mood will be ignored as visionary or else some 
haphazard method Improvised to deal with it. Tact 
recognizes conditions as they actually exist (not as they 
appear to be) and handles them intelligently. 

" Never give up " is a good slogan for the salesperson 
to follow but if vigorously adhered to under all circum- 
stances may prove to be a stumbling block. The slogan 
should be, " Never give up while there is hope." The 
tactful salesperson knows when she can hope no longer 
for a sale, and graciously gives in. The tactless sales- 
person tries for the sale to the very last because she 
has not perceived the point beyond which any further 
selling endeavor Is useless. Her persistence irritates the 
customer and leaves a bad Impression. 

Salespeople sometimes think that they are using tact 
when they are not. Flattery is not tact. To attempt 
to ingratiate one's self Is not necessarily tact. Neither 
is tact always stating what is In one's mind even though 
the thought is believed to be true. On the other hand, it 
would not be tact to omit statement of any facts that are 
necessary to keep the goods sold, even though such facts 



are difficult of formulation. Tact meets present difficul- 
ties and conquers them without endangering the good will 
of the customer. 

In conclusion, a tactful salesperson diagnoses a situa- 
tion and gets favorable results with the least amount of 
time and effort. She surveys a route of procedure that 
may be winding in its details but one which gets results. 
Conservation Is her watchword. Conservation of the 
customer's patience, cheerfulness and good will; conser- 
vation of the store's prestige and reputation for service ; 
conservation of her own energy, sympathy and spirit of 
helpfulness. Tactless selling is a great destroyer of these 
positive qualities that are of Inestimable value. It is 
destructive, not constructive. It is negative, never posi- 
tive. Like forest fires, the boll weevil and other loss 
producing agencies, tactlessness In selling should be care- 
fully watched, closely guarded against, and if possible 
entirely eliminated. 



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ELEMENTS OF PERSONALITY 



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CHAPTER VII 
ELEMENTS OF PERSONALITY (continued)' 

COURTESY 

Courtesy is that attribute of personality that softens 
and makes flexible the other attributes. Without cour- 
tesy, natural aggressiveness (an excellent quality in sell- 
ing) becomes obnoxious to some types of people, whereas 
if moderated by courtesy, it loses Its harshness and be- 
comes more effective. Courtesy Is the polish that dis- 
tinguishes the kind and considerate salesperson from the 
unsympathetic and thoughtless one. It Is a luster that 
attracts people to its possessor; It is the brilliancy that 
only the finished diamond exhibits. 

Some persons have been characterized by their friends 
as " diamonds-ln-the-rough." Only the friends and rela- 
tives of these people can see their sterling qualities be- 
cause these attributes are covered up so far as the casual 
observer is concerned by inconsiderate actions and unkind 
appearance. Some few Intimate friends may " know '* 
such discourteous persons and " overlook " the discrep- 
ancy between worth and appearance, but others less dis- 
cerning will not be so painstaking. In other words, so 
far as the great mass of the people who meet discourteous 
persons are concerned, the good qualities of the latter are 
non-existent. A discourteous salesperson places her 
*' light under a bushel." 

140 



Courtesy is, therefore, not only a sterling quality in 
and of itself, but also the means of discovering and ex- 
hibiting other success attributes, which, without its aid, 
would exist unknown excepting to intimate friends. 
Courtesy makes customers tolerant and willing to listen 
to what the salesperson has to say. It therefore not 
only brings out the salesperson's positive qualities but also 
tempers the natural critical tendencies of the customer 
and makes her open to suggestion. It places the cus- 
tomer in a favorable attitude to buy because it tends to 
disarm her antagonism, and enables the commendable and 
attractive qualities of the salesperson to be exhibited. 

Attempts to render service, to explain the goods and 
make buying pleasurable, often go unrecognized by the 
customer because she has not been made to see these things 
through the avenue of courtesy. Because of the cus- 
tomer's apparent indifference to the salesperson's at- 
tempts to serve, the latter often becomes discouraged and 
comes to the conclusion that her efforts to please are un- 
requited and therefore might just as well be discontinued. 
Thus, lack of courtesy actually breeds discourtesy. The 
customer cannot buy goods from such a salesperson be- 
cause she believes the latter has not understood her and 
does not try. There not only seems to be no way for the 
salesperson to transmit her ideas and her personality to 
the customer, but there likewise seems to be no avenue 
through which the customer can bring her own person- 
ality to bear on the salesperson. In short, discourtesy on 
the part of either party to the selling transaction, espe- 
cially if perpetrated by the salesperson, acts as an insu- 
lator between buyer and seller preventing the contact of 
their finer sensibilities. Under these circumstances sales 
talks do not have an " appeal"; they are superficial for 



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ELEMENTS OF PERSONALITY 



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the most part and never excite the deep and more perma- 
nent buying motives of customers. 

Discourtesy closes the door to a sympathetic compre- 
hension of our fellow-beings' thoughts and feelings. 
Customers are not understood and therefore cannot be 
intelligently dealt with. Courtesy Is nothing more nor 
less than a medium of exchange. It Is a means by which 
the finer feelings and thoughts of buyer and seller can be 
exchanged. It permits an ebb and flow of sentiments 
that are the very well-spring of the motives for buying. 
It releases all the pent desire and good will In the cus- 
tomer, makes buying a pleasure for her because of 
a feeling of mutual understanding, and enables her to 
readily discover the attractive features In the goods as 
well as the sturdy attributes of the salesperson. It per- 
mits Intercourse between " Inner selves " and therefore 
may be considered as a liberator of personalities. 

Courtesy as a medium of exchange Is current every- 
where and always good for its face value. It cannot be 
counterfeited, disfigured, or " sweated," by evil-minded 
ones who do not possess its excellent qualities. It is the 
money of the realm for buying immunity from discourtesy, 
ill will and unpleasantness. It should be the coin that 
is " thrown in " every package to make the customer feel 
that she has been given something " extra." People like 
anything extra and will often come long distances If any- 
thing of such a character is offered. That the extra 
which acts as an inducement to come Into the store could 
be something other than goods, has often been over- 
looked. Courtesy should be the extra and sold with the 
goods, for It must be remembered that In the last analy- 
sis people do not buy goods — but goods and service. 
The former is no more important than the latter, and if 



anything, it is less important. Other things being equal 
of two stores excepting service and price, the store with 
the better service, even though it has the higher prices, 
will win out in the race for trade. Realization of this 
fact by salespeople will go far toward relegating the 
price factor into the background, and tend to lay the 
proper emphasis on the necessity of giving the customer 
the kind of service that she desires. 

The best way to develop courtesy is to be courteous, 
polite, considerate, and sympathetic with others' views. 
An overbearing attitude toward others should never be 
permitted to exist even for a moment of time. What 
others believe and think should be studied carefully and 
weighed against one's own thoughts and beliefs before a 
judgment is formed regarding their respective merits. 
Tolerance is thus developed, and the habit of postponing 
judgment until all of the evidence is in, is encouraged. 
No more healthy habit could be formed by people in all 
walks of life. 

To be distinctive, to give the public something " differ- 
ent," is the aim of progressive retail establishments. 
Customers are looking for the new, the unexpected, and 
store managers are merely trying to satisfy this demand. 
What can courtesy contribute to satisfy this growing 
demand for the novel? The answer is by giving the cus- 
tomer unexpected favors and displaying unusual polite- 
ness. It is not often fully realized the extent to which 
" new " and " different " service can go in satisfying the 
longing of the public for change, and the desire of the 
store management for distinction. Conducting a cus- 
tomer unacquainted with the store to the elevator, plac- 
ing chairs for customers to be seated, opening of doors, 
saying " Thank you " and meaning it, showing deference 



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to all opinions expressed by the customer, getting the 
customer's point of view in all matters, and expressing 
opinions or stating facts in a gracious and pleasing man- 
ner, are all acts that should be cultivated. The dogmatic, 
overbearing salesperson is too common; the positive, ag- 
gressive, yet sympathetic and considerate salesperson is 
too seldom seen. 

No doubt untempered aggressiveness has great effec- 
tiveness in some lines of industry^ but certainly not in the 
business of dealing with human nature. The fact that 
Americans, until comparatively recent years, were 
pioneers engaged in wresting the land from the age-long 
grip of nature, accounts in part for their rough aggres- 
siveness and desire to get quick results. Then, men had 
to deal for the most part with material things and sav- 
ages, neither of which demanded a display of courtesy; 
and by reason of the nature of such dealings the name 
pioneer became the synonym for uncouthness. Since all 
Americans were more or less pioneers, the discourtesy 
and boastfulness of Americans became proverbial in Eng- 
land and on the Continent. Gradually this conception of 
Americans is changing, but in some parts of the Middle 
West the old rough-and-ready method of dealing with 
customers in retail establishments still obtains, to the 
great loss of the communities. Mail order house cour- 
tesy, expressed in its correspondence and dealings, has 
been the '* different " element in connection with com- 
modities that many people in these communities have been 
longing for in vain and are now getting — from the out- 
side. Unfortunate it is that courtesy is not indigenous 
to the soil of these communities, but far more is it to be 
deplored that the seeds of courtesy, considerateness and 



kindness can only be transplanted to this soil from more 
fortunate localities with the utmost difficulty. 

More important, perhaps, than how discourtesy origi- 
nated is an understanding of why it persists. The failure 
to understand its importance, which has already been 
elaborated upon, is, no doubt, one of the chief reasons for 
its persistence. Another reason, almost equally impor- 
tant, is the belief prevalent among some people that hon- 
esty consists of " stating one's mind " at all times. Thus, 
if a friend is enthusiastically exhibiting a painting and is 
endeavoring to get the hearty corroboration of a person 
of this character, the latter, if she cannot appreciate the 
art, thinks that she is dishonest unless she boldly con- 
demns and depreciates it. She does not try to see what 
her friend sees. She is not sympathetic, and in case her 
friend is of a sensitive structure such ruthless criticism 
goes counter to her nature. Honesty is not discourteous- 
ness, neither is courtesy dishonesty. In fact, discour- 
tesy is very often dishonesty because it is not fair 

dealing. 

Again, some salespeople *' act as they feel " and think 
that they are sincere and honest. The trouble with them 
is that they '' feel " wrong. They do not put themselves 
in the place of the customer and hence they act incorrectly 
from the standpoint of their own intentions. In other 
words, they are not sincere to themselves although they 
believe that they are acting in an honest way. So-called 
sincerity to one's feelings can never be justification for 
lack of politeness or absence of courtesy in dealing with 

others. 

To continually get on the other side of the counter 
and see herself as customers see her, is the important 



if 



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RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



ELEMENTS OF PERSONALITY 



duty of the salesperson. To measure her courtesy from 
their standpoint, to learn to appreciate what customers 
appreciate, to ascertain their feelings and interests and 
magnify them rather than her own, are fundamental les- 
sons in selling goods. Often, successful selling means 
self-abnegation which is distasteful to some types of 
salespeople, but it must be remembered that subjugating 
self is sometimes the only means of raising self to a higher 
level. Personality is an all-important element in selling, 
and any means available or method employable for de- 
veloping it should not be depreciated. 

The most insignificant actions of which people are 
capable may become the most prominent elements of 
their personality. Discourtesy may prove to be of small 
consequence in early life but its growth may be at a faster 
rate than the development of positive qualities, so that 
in later years the individual finds other characteristics 
dwarfed and rendered of secondary importance by the 
super-development of this negative attribute. To see the 
comparative growth and development of our personal 
attributes is to progress, and this can only be accom- 
plished by getting out of ourselves, i. e., getting on the 
other side of the counter. 

PROMPTNESS 

An authority on retail selling ^ estimates that the 
prompt salesperson gains from twenty-five to fifty per 
cent more business than her less vigilant companion. 
Whether or not this per cent is correct, it is certain that 
every store loses much trade each year because of the in- 
different and dilatory attitude of some of its salespeople. 
To substantiate this assertion one need only visit half 

1 Corbin, W. A., " Principles of Salesmanship, Deportment and System," 
p. 79. 



147 



a dozen stores at random and observe the manner in 
which one's needs and those of others are served. Slow- 
ness in discovering and approaching customers, and an at- 
titude of hesitation would characterize many of the sales- 
people. In fact, in some stores an utter indifference to 
the customer's needs and desires is the most impressive 
feature. The customer is made to feel like an intruder 
or a nuisance, often both. 

Contrasted with this reception is the eager, courteous, 
cheerful attempts at trade-getting carried on by the mail 
order houses. The customer is made to feel that her 
trade is valuable; that it is wanted now; and also, that 
it is appreciated. If retail salespeople can learn to give 
more customers the prompt service they demand, further 
loss of trade will be prevented and much of the business 
already lost will be regained. But the customer's busi- 
ness must appear worth active, energetic effort; any other 
kind of endeavor is an insult to the customer's concept of 
values. 

The causes for lethargy, sluggishness and indifference 
on the part of salespeople are many in number, but the 
ones considered below account for the majority of of- 
fenses of this character and are therefore worthy of care- 
ful consideration. The remedies for these evils are 
practical and so obvious as to be often overlooked; be- 
cause after all, in retailing as elsewhere, the student is 
impressed with the old fact that what is closest to people 
is the most difficult to discern. Thus, instead of the ob- 
viousness of retail selling evils and their remedies being 
a deterrent to the restatement and reiteration of sound 
principles of improvement, it is, in fact, all the more rea- 
son why these principles should be given fresh considera- 
tion and examination from time to time and be more 



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ELEMENTS OF PERSONALITY 



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fully emphasized. Practical experience proves beyond 
a doubt that constant study by salespeople of the causes 
and remedies of evils that become obscure through fa- 
miliarity, produces greater selling efficiency. It is with 
this end in view that the succeeding subjects are included 
in the present discussion. 

One of the chief reasons why customers are not given 
prompt attention is because salespeople collect in groups 
and carry on conversation. Whatever is the subject mat- 
ter of the intercourse — gossip, business, religion or his- 
tory — interest in what is being said by the members of 
the group produces abstraction, salespeople forget what 
is going on around them, and as a result customers are not 
served promptly and are often antagonistic in attitude 
when approached. 

That the customer has just cause for being vexed un- 
der such circumstances cannot successfully be contradicted. 
Perhaps she is of an impatient disposition and cannot eas- 
ily resist her rapidly swelling indignation at the insult; 
possibly she is more of a deliberative person, in which 
case she reasons that if the store is slow in providing her 
with prompt service it is probably slow in getting the 
latest goods on the shelves ; in case the customer is vacil- 
lating in temperament, this indisposition to decision is 
aggravated by the negative indetermination of the sales- 
people — it will now be more difficult for her to decide. 
Whatever the type or social position of the customer, the 
impression given by salespeople that they are more in- 
terested in their own petty affairs than in the larger in- 
terests of the store, keeps people from buying from such 
a retail establishment. Customers feel that this kind of 
a store would not appreciate their patronage. A lack of 
confidence in the store's goods and methods finds root 



■y 

t 



and flourishes in the soil of salespeople's indifference to 
customers' desires. 

Alertness of attitude on the part of salespeople im- 
presses the customer with a sense of thoroughness and 
confidence. This positive and valuable impression should 
be in evidence as much as the goods themselves. Con- 
gregating in groups of two or more gives as bad an impres- 
sion as having dust on the goods or being ignorant of their 
location. Readiness to serve at all times is some of the 
best interior advertising a store can have, and no matter 
how excellent Its window display or its newspaper ad- 
vertising these latter will be nullified If the customer's 
needs are not promptly served when she accepts the Invi- 
tation of this exterior advertising and enters the store. 

Some salespeople are at a loss to know what to do be- 
tween sales, and because nothing offers Itself they seek 
to justify themselves In conversing with their neighbor. 
Strange it is that they do not realize that such intervals 
are valuable and can most profitably be spent in a not 
too absorbing study of the goods. Leisure does not le- 
gitimately exist behind the counter until the salesperson 
knows all about the goods from the standpoints of loca- 
tion, quantity and quality. In other words, leisure mo- 
ments behind the counter never exist. As already Indi- 
cated elsewhere ^ goods offer Infinite possibilities for study 
by reading, which should be done out of hours of work, 
and by first hand analysis of the goods themselves, which 
of necessity can take place in the store only during work- 
ing hours. 

If professional men followed the practices of salespeo- 
ple the public would receive sorry service. If the doctor 
only worked when he sold his goods, i. e., performed the 

1 Chapter TIL 



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RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



operation or administered the medicine, if the clergyman 
only worked when he delivered his sermon, if the lawyer 
only worked when he defended his client, what degenera- 
tion in service would be evidenced in the professions. 
Long hours of study and investigation in office and labora- 
tory are a prerequisite to the final selling of their serv- 
ices. Are the salesperson's services of less moment? 
Or, are her services of a high character without study? 

On being asked why salespeople did not know as much 
about the goods they handled as doctors did about medi- 
cine, a salesperson replied, " Doctors know a lot because 
they are paid a lot." Here lies the fallacy that obtains 
in many a salesperson's reasoning and prevents her from 
becoming expert. Apparently, it is thought that society 
selects some people because of their good appearance, 
health, disposition or what-not, and says to them, " We 
have selected you as the beneficiary of our favor. Here 
is a large salary in return for which you are expected to 
have expert knowledge in the field of activity you choose 
for your own." 

Fortunately for the well-being of all, such a conception 
is the exact opposite of the actual facts. Society, in real- 
ity, says to all mankind, " Become expert in any field of 
endeavor, be prepared to give expert service, and as a 
result your services will be greatly in demand, people 
will be willing to pay more for your work than for the 
effort of others less expert, and you will be happy be- 
cause reward has repaid effort." If this true causation 
were fully realized by salespeople, as well as the univer- 
sal necessity for study in all occupations before services 
are offered to the public, a new standard of expertness 
would appear in retail selling that would be revolutionary 
in its character. 



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ELEMENTS OF PERSONALITY 



151 



Another reason for lack of promptness is preoccupa- 
tion in stockkeeping. Stockkeeping, highly necessary and 
commendable in itself, sometimes so completely absorbs 
the attention and interest of salespeople that the latter 
not only overlook the fact that customers wish to be 
waited on, but sometimes actually view them in an im- 
patient petulant manner as disturbers of their rightful 
labors. 

In such cases, in the maze of her duties, the salesper- 
son has become so intimate with her work that she has 
lost sight of the raison (Tetre of the store. She has made 
certain work the end instead of the means to the end. 
Satisfied customers should be the aim of every retail 
establishment. To secure this end satisfactory service 
must at all times be supplied. This cannot be done un- 
less salespeople realize the end toward which their efforts 
are supposed to contribute. " The customer is the big- 
gest thing in the store " is a good motto to have imbed- 
ded in the mind of each salesperson. Whether one ac- 
tivity is discontinued or another one commenced depends 
entirely on whether or not it conduces to keeping the mind 
of the customer in a happy condition. With the end 
of all selling effort clearly and continuously in mind, 
sluggishness in response, and antagonism toward disturb- 
ers of daily routine, cannot occur. Preparation to serve 
the public well should never stand in the way of securing 
that result. 

A third cause for salespeople's slow approach to as- 
certain customers' needs, is fear. This may arise be- 
cause of, ( I ) the natural timidness or indecision of the 
salesperson, (2) the memory of unfortunate experiences 
with customers in the past, or, (3) the unprepossessing 
appearance of the customer. 



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RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



The first cause of fear can be eliminated by training. 
At the very beginning of her career the salesperson should 
realize that timldness has no place in selling. Salesman- 
ship is leadership if it is anything — the leading of cus- 
tomers to satisfactions. Timid salespeople are never 
leaders. They lack self-confidence, vision, and are usu- 
ally self-conscious. They are occupied with negative 
thoughts — how they may offend the customer, instead of 
being dominated by positive thoughts — how they may 
serve the customer. Subjective thinking must give way 
to objective thinking if the salesperson is to become ef- 
ficient. In other words, she must fully realize that the 
customer has many wants; that probably some of them 
are at present unsatisfied; that unsatisfied wants give a 
feeling of displeasure while satisfied wants give a sense 
of happiness; that all people are seeking satisfactions 
and happiness; that the store is in existence to satisfy 
people seeking satisfactions; that the salesperson Is only 
performing her legitimate function when she aggres- 
sively and promptly attempts to give customers satisfac- 
tions by ascertaining and supplying their needs. The 
fact should never be overlooked that the Initiative and 
th« right to exercise It rests with the salesperson. Inde- 
cision should never vitiate prompt action. 

This does not mean that in every case the salesper- 
son should advance toward the customer the moment 
the latter comes within range of approach. Some cus- 
tomers are timid and would be driven away by too bold 
an approach, but the point to be made is that the Initia- 
tive should remain with the salesperson -and be exercised 
when it will be the most effective. In most cases, 
promptness In meeting customers is desirable and is part 
of the service that is paid for. 



ELEMENTS OF PERSONALITY 



153 



In the second place, the remembrance of some cus- 
tomer who took offense at the salesperson's promptness 
in offering service, has oftentimes had too much weight 
in deciding the course of the salesperson's future action. 
The many cases of satisfaction exhibited by customers 
because of the salesperson's readiness to serve, apparently 
have had less weight and leave a less vivid Impression on 
the salesperson's mind than the comparatively few in- 
stances where customers took offense at the initiative 
shown. That the minority experiences should receive 
more emphasis as a guide for action than the majority 
is a lamentable fact, but yet one that can fortunately be 
altered so as to develop a more logical procedure. Usu- 
ally, to call attention to this error is to supply the remedy 
for it, while a careful study of the different types of cus- 
tomers ^ will tend to reduce to a minimum those cases 
where dissatisfaction arises because promptness rides 
roughshod over peculiar temperaments. 

In the third place, uninviting and morose appearing 
customers should never be the reason for sluggishness of 
approach. People of this type necessarily must purchase 
goods, and they will naturally trade at those stores where 
exchanging their dollars for merchandise is the most 
pleasant operation. In selling, the attitude of mind 
(vision) of the salesperson Is everything. If the 
latter can forget the objectionable characteristics of 
such persons and keep constantly In mind the fact that 
they are consumers looking for satisfactions, she will 
be able to make the right approach and leave a good 
impression. 

Fear is an enemy to sales and in common sense has no 
foundation. The reasons for its existence are real in the 

1 See Chapter V. 



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154 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



minds of salespeople and may often be difficult to remove, 
but education and experience can eliminate them. 

The fourth reason for lack of promptness in rendering 
service is a misunderstanding as to who desires and de- 
serves service. Apparently the belief obtains among 
salespeople in some stores that the '* looker " is not 
worthy of prompt service or else that she does not de- 
mand it. Whichever is the case, the results are the same : 
dissatisfied customers, wasted publicity, loss of profits and 
bonuses and the ingraining of a dangerous negative atti- 
tude in salespeople. 

From one viewpoint all customers are lookers. Even 
though a customer knows exactly what she wants and asks 
for it, she is still a looker. She is glancing around try- 
ing to mentally masticate what she sees so as to be able 
to form wise judgments in future buying. In fact, she 
was no doubt a looker for the article directly asked for 
before she became a buyer of it. Looking precedes buy- 
ing and yet is an intimate part of buying, just as continu- 
ous satisfaction is a part of selling although it follows 
the actual transfer of goods known as the " sale." 

From another standpoint, however, nine-tenths of all 
customers are lookers. It may safely be said that not 
more than one out of ten customers has a definite idea of 
what she desires. The others may think that they have 
but when different styles, patterns, sizes and colors appear 
before them, they are educated to change their former 
plans and specifications. How true this is becomes ap- 
parent if customers will reflect on the basis for their own 
judgments. A true judgment can only be formed after 
the evidence is all in, and such a condition can exist not 
merely after the customer has " looked " at a multitudin- 
ous array of commodities in different stores, but only 



ELEMENTS OF PERSONALITY 



155 



after the facts regarding the goods have been presented 
by salespeople. Many superficial and trouble-causing 
judgments would be formed if customers had to " look " 
their way into conviction and ultimate decision. 

Salespeople not only overlook lookers for the reasons 
already given but also because they do not realize their 
true significance in our industrial order. The customer 
and the position she holds is not appreciated. Salespeo- 
ple fail to fully realize that all industry works for cus- 
tomers, i. e., lookers. All of our mines, smelters, for- 
ests, farms, mills, factories, quarries, and shops, work to 
produce goods for the person who comes into the store to 
look or buy; all the wagons, automobiles, steam and mule- 
pack trains, ships, caravans, and human shoulders, are 
enlisted for one purpose — to satisfy human wants by 
making accessible goods and services; every human be- 
ing is endeavoring to supply something to the ultimate 
consumer — the person across the counter. 

That the salesperson should be apparently oblivious to 
the tremendous strategic importance of the ultimate con- 
sumer can perhaps be accounted for by the benumbing 
influence of daily personal contact with the instigators 
and supporters of industry. The latter may often seem 
so numerous and so monotonously similar as to be of lit- 
tle importance. If the salesperson could view the cus- 
tomer in her true significance, the latter would be a much 
more respected person and would receive prompt service 
whether or not she proclaimed herself a looker. 

Of what does promptness consist? How may lookers 
be promptly served without giving offense? The fact 
that such questions as these arise in the minds of sales- 
people at this time would indicate a close connection be- 
tween the character of the approach and the nature of 



1 



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156 RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 

the customer. It is true that this relationship exists but 
it IS of little significance in this case because whether or 
not the customer is a looker cannot be determined in ad- 
vance. In fact, she is not a looker until the salesperson 
has forced her to so brand herself by means of an untact- 
ful although it may be a prompt approach. In other 
words, lookers are not in existence until they are made 
by the salesperson. This might appear contradictory to 
the above statement that all customers are lookers. In 
reality, this contradiction is one in appearance only. The 
explanation of the paradox is that every one, from an 
outsider's view, is " looking " in order to form buying 
judgments which may develop into finality at the time of 
looking or at some later time. This acknowledgment 
of being a looker is not, however, uppermost in the con- 
sciousness of the customer and if not called forth remains 
in the background. Unless the salesperson, therefore, 
forces the customer to so define herself, the customer is 
neither a looker from her own standpoint or from that 
of the salesperson. She is a potential buyer waiting to 
be interested and not an individual appearing in the store 
to receive a condemnatory classification that prevents 
further intercourse with the sales force of a department 
and inhibits possibility of buying goods. So far as the 
looker in this sense (meaning something to be let alone) 
is concerned, she is made, not born. 

How are lookers made ? The answer is, by a method 
of approach or a salutation which leads customers to so 
characterize themselves, and having once declared their 
position they are loath to alter it. The methods sales- 
people use in manufacturing lookers are apparent to all 
after a moment's reflection. The most common method 
is by asking questions such as the following: " Is there 



ELEMENTS OF PERSONALITY 



157 



anything today," ''Waited on?" "Do you wish any- 
thing? " " Can I show you something? " " Is there any- 
thing I can do for you?" "What can I do for you?" 
"Something?" Interrogations of this nature usually 
place the customer on the defensive, and as a protective 
measure she declares herself merely a looker. Past ex- 
perience has demonstrated to her that in most cases such 
a declaration insures immunity from further attack by 
the salesperson. 

Psychologically considered, the direct interrogation 
is a crude form of approach or introduction. Especially 
is this true if the customer is apparently interested in 
something on display. Her whole chain of thought is 
suddenly altered and the necessity of constructing an an- 
swer to the question is presented. Being alien to the in- 
terest she has exhibited in examining the articles on dis- 
play, it impedes rather than facilitates a sale. If the 
question is stated in a pleasant and gracious manner, its 
harm may be greatly neutralized, but if the asking of the 
question has become mechanical as it usually does after 
much use, the customer senses its sterility and is as un- 
favorably impressed as if the salesperson had not made 
a prompt approach. In other words, promptness in ap- 
proaching a customer, if coupled with certain methods of 
salutation, may be worse than waiting for the customer to 
approach. Promptness must be tempered with under- 
standing. 

Promptness in selling means promptness in rendering 
service, not promptness in asking questions of a useless 
and harmful character. Promptness should imply readi- 
ness to serve if needed, also, the ability to approach a 
customer with a friendly greeting without giving an im- 
pression of intrusion. Only too often a customer feels 



158 RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 

that she is under obligation to buy if she examines goods 
under the supervision of salespeople, so she surrepti- 
tiously looks at goods when salespeople are not over- 
diligent in the endeavor to form unbiased buying judg- 
ments. In reality, the judgments are one-sided not hav- 
ing included the information possessed by salespeople. 
So far as the customer is concerned, however, the fear of 
an interrogation and the dread of feeling under obligation 
to buy greatly exceed the value of the salesperson's con- 
tribution to the buying judgment. The latter can be 
dispensed with if the former is removed. So thinks the 
customer. 

If promptness of approach and salutation can avoid 
startling the customer and at the same time leave no im- 
pression that she is under obligation to buy, it combines 
the elements of effectiveness and desirability. This can 
be accomplished by avoiding all questions, and after a 
friendly salutation such as, " Good morning," by directly 
accelerating interest in the goods that have commanded 
the attention of the customer. Thus, if a customer is 
handling neckties, the implication is that he is interested 
in them. To ask if there is " anything today " is to 
repeat the most foolish and universal phrase heard in 
retailing, and, needless to say, the customer has formed 
the habit of answering this question in a certain stereo- 
typed manner. Produce the universal question and you 
get the universal answer; it is merely cause and effect. 
On the other hand, suppose the salesperson says, " Aren't 
they distinctive?" and demonstrates one of the choice 
ties against his own shirt. What is the difference in the 
two cases? In the former, a mechanical question brought 
forth a mechanical answer ; it served to destroy the cus- 
tomer's interest in the ties by introducing something alien 



ELEMENTS OF PERSONALITY 



159 



to them. In the latter case, the salesperson's state- 
ment fitted in with the customer's train of thought; what 
the customer was thinking was merely stated, enlarged 
upon and demonstrated. No friction was apparent, and 
if the salesperson gives pleasing information and educates 
the customer's sense of appreciation, ties will be sold 
without the necessity of " asking the customer to buy." 
People resent being '' asked to buy " ; they buy when there 
is sufficient reason. 

This method is scientific because it enters the selling 
process at the psychological moment. It recognizes that 
the attention of the customer has been secured and that 
interest is aroused, and proceeds to arouse more inter- 
est, create desire and produce decision. It makes use 
of what has already been accomplished and builds on it. 
All the invitations to buy and the descriptions of goods 
in the advertisements have attracted the customer to the 
store and aroused some measure of interest in certain 
goods. To make use of this force is to supplement it; 
it is intelligent selling. 

The method of interrogation fails to recognize the 
steps in the selling process. It shatters interest in the 
goods by altering the mode of thought of the customer, 
and is wasteful of effort in that it fails to take advantage 
of the ground already won. Instead of following the 
presumption that the customer intends to buy, it presents 
for consideration by the customer, the alternative of not 
buying. Its suggestion is negative and in the wrong di- 
rection. It should, therefore, be eliminated from all re- 
tail selling. When customers are looking at goods, to 
present the attractive features of these goods, promptly, 
energetically and pleasantly, is the best method of ap- 
proach when done tactfully, i. e., when adapted in form 



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and character to different types of customers. A positive 
suggestion or two regarding the goods is all that is neces- 
sary for some types, but for others more comprehensive 
information must be given. With certain customers, the 
salesperson must give the impression that she Is only 
passively interested in what they are looking at, but stands 
ready to answer questions or demonstrate ; she must not 
give the impression of " prying In.'' In other cases, ener- 
getic attention to the customer's every whim and remark 
is essential to success. 

In conclusion, it should be said that promptness means 
readiness to serve when tact shall dictate. It does not 
mean rushing up to customers to ask questions, neither 
does It imply great haste in showing goods. Surface ac- 
tivity is not necessarily promptness as here considered. 
Promptness is one of the resultants of right thinking and 
understanding. It is best seen where salespeople are on 
the alert at all times; where they have the correct mental 
attitude toward their work and know the reason for the 
customer in the store; and where they understand the 
selling process and fit their work Into It rather than going 
counter to it. Promptness implies tact, enthusiasm, 
cheerfulness and the other positive elements of personal- 
ity. Without them it is indeed handicapped. 

CHEERFULNESS 

Cheerfulness is a most necessary element in the per- 
sonality of the successful salesperson, although just what 
this term connotes few salespeople understand. Cheer- 
fulness is the state of being gladdened or animated which 
shows Itself In the face, the voice, and the actions; It sug- 
gests a strong and spontaneous but quiet flow of good 
spirits. It is prompted by dominantly agreeable emo- 



ELEMENTS OF PERSONALITY 



161 



tions and is conditioned upon mental and moral health 
and freedom from irksome cares. 

Cheerfulness does not consist of wearing " the smile 
that won't come off." Cheerfulness cannot be worn like 
a garment. To be effective It must be a part of the body 
as much as the eyes, nose or ears. When merely " worn," 
affected cheerfulness appears In the form of a smirk in- 
stead of a smile on the face. It advertises the bluff be- 
ing practiced by the wearer. Instead of radiating con- 
fidence, it arouses suspicion. Instead of being an asset, 
it Is a liability. 

Since cheerfulness must be natural, spontaneous, in 
order to be valuable as a confidence winner, the ubiquitous 
Injunction, " Smile," found In offices and stores, or the 
same command displayed with other words of doubtful 
propriety, can accomplish little In the direction intended. 
Business, realizing the utilitarian value of a smile, has en- 
deavored to find a quick standard method of manufactur- 
ing It In unlimited quantities and with interchangeable 
parts. Fortunately, for those who love naturalness of 
conduct, such placards have only performed the doubtful 
service of wall decoration. They cannot be effective be- 
cause they are dealing with an effect instead of a cause. 
There are no short cuts to happiness or cheerfulness. 

Cheerfulness is a matter of the Inner being, of the 
heart. The external Indication of what is going on in- 
side Is the smile or frown. The former appears, if the 
salesperson has developed a kindliness for humanity and 
an Intense enthusiasm for the goods, if she has good health 
and Is not harassed by worries and cares. The frown 
appears, as part of the bodily appearance, when selfishness 
rules ; when ignorance of stock knowledge makes a sales- 
person loath to respond to the customer; when exercise 



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ELEMENTS OF PERSONALITY 



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13 



has been neglected, wrong foods eaten, or rest inter- 
rupted; when domestic troubles or financial anxieties are 
forever on the surface to chafe and aggravate the nerv- 
ousness resulting from the day's work. The conditions 
must be right before cheerfulness can appear. The cause 
must exist before the effect. 

Cheerfulness is emphasized in all selling because it has 
a great money value. Customers are attracted toward 
the cheerful pleasant salesperson. There is enough sor- 
row in this world without attempting to sell it; for, it 
must be remembered, a salesperson sells her personality 
as well as the goods. Gloom is a drug on the market 
because there is a lot of it; cheerfulness is high priced be- 
cause it is scarce. Consequently, the store with much 
cheerfulness exhibited by its sales force is more valuable 
and attractive because it has an article that is too seldom 
found and is much in demand. 

Cheerlessness is negative and repels customers. Peo- 
ple who intended to buy, unconsciously turn away from a 
gloomy salesperson. This is true because cheerlessness 
implies indifference, abstraction and unwillingness to 
make buying pleasant. Customers like to shop where 
buying is pleasant, where they have confidence in the sales- 
people. Cheerlessness destroys both of these incentives. 
It is the force that neutralizes valuable advertising and 
good will. People have been invited into the store by 
publicity, expecting a warm welcome and a show of appre- 
ciation for their effort in responding to the invitation. 
They cannot consider a store entirely honest that contra- 
dicts its words by its actions, and the latter speak louder 
than the former in retailing. 

Cheerfulness is a remarkable buffer against the friction 
and wear and tear of the day's work. It is the cushion 



that eases up the jar and shock incident to contact with 
customers. Mistakes in representing goods or in hand- 
ling different types of customers inevitably occur during 
the day's efforts, but the evil effect of these is reduced to 
a minimum by the factor of cheerfulness. Cheerfulness 
may *' cover a multitude of sins," — the customer will 
overlook a great many inefficiencies if the salesperson is 
cheerful. Conversely, no matter how much the salesper- 
son knows about the merchandise or the customer, if 
cheerfulness is lacking, the efficient qualities lack in luster 
and may go for naught. 

Cheerfulness should be ever present whether or not it 
is encouraged by circumstances. Sometimes a salesper- 
son is rebuffed by the silence or apparent indifference of a 
customer. It is hard for cheerfulness to thrive in such 
soil but it is a plant of little stamina unless it does. 
Usually its persistence wins out and eventually commands 
the admiration and respect of the irate customer. Un- 
wavering amiability in the presence of provocation often 
heaps the necessary coals of fire which burn a sale into the 
unreasonable customer. Under all circumstances, the 
best antidote for gloom and cheerlessness is w^hole- 
hearted sweetness of temper and cheerfulness. This rule 
has no exception in selling. 

A smile has a money value in selling it if it is attractive, 
but there are some kinds of smiles worn by salespeople 
that are a liability. One writer ^ has presented the fol- 
lowing classification : 

I. The pitying smile, when the customer signifies a 
desire to look at a cheaper article than the first 
shown her. 

1 Fisk, J. W., " Retail Selling," p. 203. 



164 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



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2. The sarcastic smile, when the customer intimates 

she Is a more competent judge of her own needs 
than Is the salesperson. 

3. The knowing smile, when the customer says she is 

buying an Inexpensive garment for the maid. 

4. The Idiotic, meaningless, vacant, perpetual smile of 

the salesperson who considers a smirk her stock 
in trade. 

5. The bored smile, when the customer speaks proudly 

of the exceptional cleverness of her sister-in-law's 
second cousin's children. 

6. The *' Heaven-help-me " smile, exchanged with a 

fellow-salesperson when the customer finds dif- 
ficulty in deciding between two silverware pat- 
terns. 

All salespeople will recognize the Importance of facial 
expressi-on and the necessity of being cheerful and re- 
flecting it in a genuine inviting smile. Artificiality is 
never attractive, especially not at close range. The kind 
of smile a salesperson Is going'to have twenty years from 
now is the smile being worn today. Is it attractive or 
repulsive? Is it an asset or a liability? Dress can be 
improved upon at some future time but not so with 
facial expression. The lines developed today will be the 
features tomorrow, permanent and unchanging. 

If cheerfulness does not come to a salesperson natu- 
rally, it can be developed. The smile can be artificially 
developed but this need not necessarily result in an artifi- 
cial smile, any more than artificially stimulating the 
growth of plants produces artificial flowers. If a melan- 
choly or foreboding salesperson will repeat to herself on 
rising in the morning: " This is a wonderful world. It's 



ELEMENTS OF PERSONALITY 1 65 

great just to be alive," or, " I feel fine, 1 feel happy," or, 
if she will sing or whistle, the feelings and counte- 
nance will respond appropriately. Continuously do- 
ing what happy people do, oftentimes sows the seeds 
of optimism and cheerfulness, just as artificial expan- 
sion and contraction of the lungs of a drowned person 
may be the means of their natural functioning. Cheer- 
fulness, reflecting a wholesome attractive smile, should 
come naturally from a gladdened animated being in 
good spirits, but if It cannot come in this way it must 
come by whatever method It can. Artificially produced^ 
smiles are often just as good as the naturally grown, 
and sometimes they are better and more winning; but 
an artificial smile, naturally or artificially produced. Is a 
great liability to the possessor and is repulsive to other 
people. 

Cheerfulness in retailing is at present too conspicuous 
for its absence. This is no doubt partially due to lack 
of emphasis having been put on its. importance, to store 
conditions which are not conducive to happiness (ig- 
norance of salesmanship Included) and to Ignorance on 
the part of the salesperson as to the conditions under her 
own control conducive to cheerfulness. The future is 
large with opportunity for betterment as the value of 
genuine cheerfulness and the means of acquiring it be- 
come more generally known by store proprietors and 
salespeople. Part of the recreation hours now spent 
in idleness or cheap entertainment will be illumined 
with study and reflection, which will Increase the sales- 
person's interest in her work and create cheerfulness. 
Keener competition, as well as exhortation of store man- 
agers, will be the leading causes for such a result. 
Greater efficiency in distribution (increased sales per 



i66 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



salesperson) must be developed if retail stores are to be 
justified in the future. If cheerfulness can help in bring- 
ing about this result, it will have economically justified 
the expense and efiort consumed in its production. 



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CHAPTER VIII 
THE SELLING PROCESS 

The selling process consists of four operations, viz., 
gaining attention, securing interest, creating desire and 
inducing decision. Unless the customer's mind is led 
through these four steps no sale can be made. When 
customers such as the impulsive type make up their minds 
on the spur of the moment, these four steps have been 
gone through just as truly as when the deliberative type 
consumes much time in deciding. 

Does not every salesperson realize that sales cannot be 
made without performing these four operations? Every- 
day observation answers this question in the negative. 
How often has the reader had a salesperson bring out an 
article, give two or three facts about it including the price, 
and then "wait" for the customer to buy? In such 
cases, the salesperson does not comprehend the w'orklngs 
of the human mind. She does not understand the selling 
process; she does not realize the task cut out for her by 
natural conditions. The customer " waits " for the sales- 
person to sell and the salesperson " waits " for the cus- 
tomer to buy. In many such cases the writer has seen 
sales lost because the customer had no material with 
which to form a buying judgment. Her mind had not 
been logically directed toward a certain goal. 

In order to understand how sales are made, i. e., what 
elements enter into -their determination, the selling proc- 

167 



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THE SELLING PROCESS 



169 



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ess must be broken up into its constituent parts and each 
part carefully analyzed. In this way, the importance of 
each act, method and procedure of the salesperson may 
be determined, both in its relation to the other elements 
and the sale as a totality. From such an analysis it is 
to be hoped the salesperson will get a more comprehen- 
sive idea of the significance of influencing the minds of 
customers, and be able to make practical use of the ma- 
terial presented In previous chapters. Unless the sales- 
person can apply the knowledge regarding herself, the 
goods, and the customer, in the actual selling process, all 
this wisdom goes for naught. The one end of all knowl- 
edge in salesmanship Is to sell goods. The analysis of 
the selling process will now be given. 

ATTRACTING ATTE.NTION 

There are six general methods by which attention can 
be attracted, viz., promptness, attitude, facial expression, 
attentiveness, form of speech and tone of voice. 

Promptness means constant alertness and watchfulness. 
The salesperson should immediately discontinue other 
work on seeing a customer and rapidly advance to meet 
her, either walking toward her behind the counter or out 
on the floor. The farther away from her original posi- 
tion the salesperson meets the customer, the more favor- 
able attention does she attract. The customer feels that 
the salesperson Is pleased to see her, and as a conse- 
quence her initial attitude toward the store is not one of 
antagonism. Many salespeople take a step or two to- 
ward in-coming customers but a more aggressive advance 
as here advised has greater attention-attracting value.^ 

Attitude, The salesperson should show recognition 

1 See page 146 ff. ' 



by a nod of the head, and expectancy and deference by 
her general attitude. If she is pleased to see the cus- 
tomer her whole attitude will reflect this feeling and pro- 
claim welcome. However, no matter what her words 
and face may say. If her attitude is overbearing and un- 
concerned the former favorable indicators are negatived. 

The salesperson should also appear energetic, thus im- 
plying that it is a pleasure to serve the customer. 
Promptness is a kind of energetlcness, but what is here 
meant is a show of strong vitality or animation after the 
customer has been met. Excellent health produces this 
quality more than anything else. 

Finally, a self-confident hearing attracts attention to 
the possessor and creates confidence in the customer for 
the salesperson and the store. This attitude is extremely 
valuable and can only be procured by knowledge and ex- 
perience. Knowledge of the goods, the customer, one's 
personality, the selling process, and the realization of 
having successfully applied the same, is the only soil in 
which self-confidence can grow and thrive. 

Facial expression. The face should show expectancy. 
Such an expression can be produced by wondering in what 
way the customer can be served. Blended with this ex- 
pression should be a smile. The latter results from being 
truly pleased with one's opportunity to serve. The smile 
must be natural,^ as an artificial smile repels and destroys 
confidence. A natural winning smile is one of the best 
attractors of attention. Customers attend to it because 
it creates a pleasant sensation in them. 

Attentiveness. Can the salesperson perform some 
unexpected service for the customer? If so, the latter's 
attention is irresistibly directed toward the person per- 

1 See page 160 flF. 



170 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



THE SELLING PROCESS 



171 



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forming the unusual act. The out-of-the-ordinary never 
fails to get people's attention. 

Another form of attentiveness is to catch the custom- 
er's first words. No worse initial impression could be 
left with the customer than to ask her to repeat what she 
has said. The salesperson may sometimes find it neces- 
sary to ask the customer to restate what she has said 
when the latter has garbled her words, but very -often 
salespeople ask for the repetition of the custodier's first 
words simply because they have not been paying strict 
attention. If the salesperson looks the customer in the 
face there is little necessity for requesting her to repeat 
her statements. Careful attention must be given to every 
move the customer makes, else some meaningful expres- 
sions will be overlooked, thereby indicating a lack of in- 
terest on the part of the salesperson. 

Form of Speech. The salesperson's speech attracts 
favorable attention when it is courteous. So much of 
every-day speech lacks this refined element that when it 
does exist it attracts attention. Secondly, it should be 
suited to the customer. It must be simple and direct with 
some people, more dignified and less persistent with 

others. 

Thirdly, instead of asking the customer whether she 
wants " something," the salesperson should greet her with 
a " Good morning." If this is said with the expectation 
that the customer will speak and state her desires, such 
will be the case. However, it can be said in such a way 
as to discourage expression. The important point to be 
noted is that the salesperson should, by her speech, offer 
service immediately without using cut and dried saluta- 
tions which have long since become devitalized by constant 



use.^ Each store or department should have its dis- 
tinctive salutation which could be discarded and replaced 
by a new one whenever its virility and effectiveness were 
lost. In some cases, a question is satisfactory if it does 
not place customers under an obligation to buy. Ex- 
amples of such salutations are: " Do you desire serv- 
ice? " " Do you wish attention? " etc. Usually, how- 
ever, questions of any kind are a bad means of greeting 
people because energy is required to answer them. When 
customers are permitted to tell their needs of their own 
accord, a much more favorable impression of the store is 
left with them. 

Fourthly, the customer's name should be used in the 
salutation. Few salespeople recognize the importance 
of this principle. Attention is often easily secured by de- 
taching a customer from her surroundings through the 
mentioning of her name. Where a minute before she 
was just a customer, now, after mentioning her name, she 
becomes an individual. The attention-getting value of 
this individualizing device cannot be too greatly empha- 
sized in the first step of the selling process. 

Tone of voice. In the first place, the tone of voice 
should be clear and distinct. There should be no ques- 
tion on the part of the customer as to what the sales- 
person is saying. Attention can be secured through the 
tone of the voice only when the latter carries to the cus- 
tomer an unmistakable meaning. 

In the second place, the tone of voice should be sin- 
cere. If the salesperson believes what she says and is 
conscientiously looking out for the welfare of the cus- 
tomer, her voice will reflect the sincerity in her heart and 



lB( 






1 See pages 156-7. 



172 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



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impress the customer favorably. If the customer's con- 
fidence can thus be secured at the start, not only is atten- 
tion secured but also good will. Sincere thinking and 
acting are prerequisites for a sincere tone of voice. 

In the third place, the tone of voice should be rhythmi- 
cal. A high-pitched voice irritates, a low unintelligent 
mumble exasperates, while a rhythmical measured tone 
soothes the customer. The latter variety is attractive, 
inviting and actually impels attention, while the others 
repel and antagonize. Whether or not a customer stops 
at the counter long enough to inspect the goods, often 
depends to a large extent on the cadence of the salesper- 
son's tone of voice when speaking the words of introduc- 
tion. A well-modulated voice should be a part of every 
salesperson's equipment. If it is not a natural acquire- 
ment then special training should produce it. 

In the fourth place, the tone of voice should be suited 
to the customer. If the customer is an impulsive type 
the tone of voice will be louder and more aggressive than 
when speaking to the confident customer.^ With the 
suspicious type the tone of voice must be warm with en- 
thusiasm, but with the friendly customer it must be 
cooler, lighter and carrying less assurance. With the 
deliberative customer the tone must indicate carefulness 
and willingness to go into detail without hurrying; the 
obstinate man must be impressed with the flexibility of 
tone. Whatever type of customer the salesperson meets, 
the tone in which the first few words are said secures at- 
tention or loses it just in proportion to its suitability. 
Much study can profitably be spent in analyzing the dif- 
ferent tones in one's voice and in ascertaining in what 
circumstances each is the most effective. 

^ See pages 92 ff. and X03 ff. 



THE SELLING PROCESS 



AROUSING INTEREST 



173 



Interest can be aroused by the first words regarding the 
goods and the initial actions in showing them. 

First words regarding the goods. First, some definite 
information should be given. The customer must have 
something around which she can build her thought. In- 
stead of glittering generalities that make no impression, 
definite facts about the goods should be stated.^ Thor- 
ough knowledge of the merchandise will enable the sales- 
person to make this valuable first impression. Hack- 
neyed phrases are valueless. 

Second, the most vital selling point should be presented. 
Early in the selling process this point is of greatest value 
although later on it should be repeated. The vital im- 
portance of an article is a " reason " for buying which 
should not be overlooked by the salesperson. It is the 
element that gives perspective to the sales talk. By the 
very *' bigness " of an idea, interest is often aroused and 
opposition forced into the background. The most vital 
selling point of any article for all conditions may not be 
determinable, but may vary with customers. However, 
whatever the salesperson decides upon as most important, 
that should be given. 

Third, a positive statement arouses interest. Let the 
salesperson affirm in a positive manner some function that 
the merchandise is supposed to perform, and the cus- 
tomer will tend to ignore the less positive impressions 
around her and become concerned about what the sales- 
person is saying. Having confidence in what one is say- 
ing is here an important factor, because without it a deep 
enough impression cannot be made on the customer's 

1 Sec pages 35-42. 






^ 



174 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



THE SELLING PROCESS 



17s 



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mind to arouse strong interest and sustain it until desire 
develops. Self-conviction must occur before customer- 
conviction can exist. 

Fourth, the purpose of the purchase should he referred 
to. Just what the merchandise is supposed to do or ac- 
complish should be clearly understood by customer and 
salesperson. Any chance of future misunderstanding is 
thereby removed, and both parties to the selling trans- 
action feel that they are dealing with the same thing. 
When customers feel that their interests are being looked 
after, interest is more readily aroused. 

First actions in showing goods. First, there should 
be promptness in showing goods. Interest can be aroused 
by an immediate display of appropriate merchandise or 
it can be effectively killed by hesitation in finding and 
showing goods. Especially is this true with the im- 
pulsive customer who becomes irritated over delays. 
Asking other salespeople where goods are to be found 
or being unable to locate them immediately are two good 
methods of deadening the customer's interest in the goods. 
Lack of promptness in showing merchandise implies in- 
difference on the part of the salesperson, and indifference 
never yet succeeded in arousing a customer's interest. 
The goods should be displayed before the customer as 
soon as she is ready to look at them. 

Second, the salesperson should always bring the goods 
to the customer. It ought not to be necessary for the 
customer to follow the salesperson around in order to 
purchase goods. If the customer is comfortably seated 
and the goods brought to her, there will be less friction 
because of tired nerves. Interest is a plant that grows 
out of the soil of satisfaction. Bringing goods to the 
customer creates in her a sense of satisfaction because it 



appeals to her vanity and laziness.^ The expenditure of 
the customer's energy discourages the expenditure of her 
money. An effort on the part of the salesperson to con- 
serve the customer's energy always brings appreciation 
from the latter and arouses her interest in the goods. 

Third, the goods should be placed in reach of the cus- 
tomer. This permits the functioning of the senses of 
touch, smell or taste,^ thereby vivifying the initial im- 
pressions of the merchandise on the customer's brain. 
Moreover, goods just out of reach often exasperates the 
customer although she may say nothing, and thus op- 
posing ideas may enter her mind to inhibit arousal of in- 
terest. Sometimes customers cannot resist from reach- 
ing for goods out of their immediate reach. This action 
indicates that for a time their interest or ardor was damp- 
ened and could not be revived without momentary pos- 
session of the goods. The universal characteristic of 
laziness was overcome because the instinct of possession 
was stronger. In some cases, however, the reverse of 
this may be true, and the customer's sense of touch or her 
instinct of possession may never be appealed to if the 
goods are not displayed so that she can handle them with- 
out effort. Indeed, if she can be induced to handle them, 
interest will be aroused more quickly than otherwise 
would have been the case.^ 

Fourth, the goods should be displayed to the best ad- 
vantage. For example, pile fabrics appear more at- 
tractive when the light strikes them a certain way, while 
some articles seem to take on a more desirable color 
when exposed in natural light. If possible, the article 
should be put to the use for which it is Intended. Thus, 
ready-to-wear arouses interest to the fullest extent only 

1 See page 88 ff. 2 See pages 46-7- ^ See page 74 «• 



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RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



when it is placed on the customer. Shoes must be worn ; 
draperies should be exhibited in the manner they will 
appear in use ; neckties are effective when held against a 
shirt as a background; socks appear to best advantage 
when shown on a model ; furniture exhibited in a sympa- 
thetic environment arouses interest. Merchandise, to ap- 
pear to the best advantage, must be displayed from the 
standpoint of color and form as it will look in actual use. 
The customer is usually interested to know '' how it will 
look,'' and this reflection of the instinct of curiosity ^ is 
satisfied through appropriate display. 

Fifth, objectionable features should be removed. This 
applies to the immediate surroundings or to the goods 
themselves. If neighboring goods tend to distract the 
customer's attention or neutralize the salesperson's efforts 
in any way, these must be removed. Sometimes a cus- 
tomer does not get interested in draperies, ready-to-wear 
and other merchandise because their colors clash with 
those of near-by goods. The difficulty is supposed to re- 
side in the contemplated purchases when in reality it lies 
in the inharmonious surroundings. 

Moreover, if the goods themselves have temporary 
features which depreciate them in the eyes of customers, 
these must be physically eliminated or talked out of ex- 
istence. An example of using physical elimination was 
recently seen by the writer, when a shoe salesperson fitted 
a " boxless " shoe to a customer's foot. Because of the 
lack of stiffening over the toes the leather wrinkled. 
For this reason the customer lost interest in the shoe until 
the salesperson filled the point of the toe with curled hair, 
preventing further wrinkling. The customer showed re- 
newed interest in this particular type of shoe because of 

1 See page 80 flp. 



THE SELLING PROCESS 



177 



the quick elimination of the objectionable feature. Ob- 
jectionable features are talked out of existence when a 
salesperson tells a customer who has tried on a suit, that, 
*' The wrinkles will all be pressed out, of course," or that, 
" The coat will look altogether different when it is ' fit- 
ted.' " Whatever and wherever the objectionable fea- 
tures may be, the salesperson should promptly locate and 
eliminate them. Interest can then be aroused and de- 
veloped into desire without opposing influences. 

Sixth, the goods should be handled so as to enhance 
value. Unrealized by some but nevertheless true, the 
value of any article is not fixed at any moment of time. 
The price of an article is fixed in a one-price store at any 
moment of time but its value fluctuates with different cus- 
tomers and different sales talks. It is within the power 
of every salesperson to increase or decrease the value of 
the merchandise. The writer has seen beautiful silk 
yard goods reduced fifteen per cent in value by careless 
handling, while in other cases the very same kind of goods 
have appeared more valuable because they were held up 
admiringly and handled in a deferential and respectful 
manner. A certain salesperson enhances the value of 
shoes by carefully wiping them with a flannel cloth before 
the customer tries them on. Likewise, the gentle way in 
which he removes them from the box gives them an added 
importance in the customer's eyes. The most expensive 
article in any store may be reduced in value and the mean- 
est commodity may have its value increased, by methods 
of handling during a sales talk. Salespeople are creators 
of value, and just to the extent that they perform this 
function well can interest be sustained, desire created and 
decision induced. 

Seventh, interest is augmented by showing the right 



178 



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^oods, A customer asked to look at silk dresses, size 
36. The salesperson showed a few dresses among which 
was only one that appealed to the customer. A good 
deal of valuable time was consumed in considering the 
different features of this dress before the customer acci- 
dentally discovered that it was size 38. Immediately in- 
terest in silk dresses in that store was seriously dampened 
and could not be revived, although there were several 
right size dresses back in the stacks that might have 
proved desirable. Asking for a basket-ball and being 
shown a foot-ball is another example illustrating the point. 
Many more could be given. Enough has been said, how- 
ever, if the salesperson realizes that the customer loses 
interest in the goods and confidence in the salesperson 
when the wrong goods are brought out for display. 

CREATING DESIRE 

As in the case of arousing interest, desire can be ere- 
ated by two means, viz., words and actions. 

fFords. First, the sales talk should adapt itself to the 
customer's suggestions. If the customer desires any par- 
ticular kmd of merchandise the salesperson should bring 
herself mto Ime with the customer's ideas, unless, of 
course, the customer's ideas are contrary to her own wel- 
fare. Even in this latter case, however, if the customer 
IS determined to wear or use something contrary to what 
the salesperson thinks is best, the latter should concede 
the point, always realizing that the customer must be 
satisfied — not the store or its salespeople. It is diflH- 
cult to draw the line where the salesperson as an expert 
adviser should end and the salesperson as a reflector of 
the customer's ideas should begin, but every salesperson 
knows that such a line exists. By the time the third 



THE SELLING PROCESS 



179 



step in the selling process is reached, the salesperson 
should have discovered just what her function is in this 
respect, and proceed accordingly. One thing is certain, 
unless the salesperson consciously directs her course of 
action at this critical point, the sales talk will become 
either inflexible, rigid and uncompromising, or weak, un- 
certain and lacking in direction. Adapting the sales talk 
to the customer's suggestions is necessary, but it can be 
overdone thereby robbing the salesperson of the initiative. 
Second, desire will be created if new ideas are supplied 
as rapidly as they can he utilized by the customer. If a 
pot of boiling water receives no additional water, it will 
burn dry; while if water is added at a faster rate than 
evaporation takes place, the pot will overflow. The same 
is true of customers who are at the boiling point of desire. 
New ideas must be added as fast as they can be assimi- 
lated, but no faster. If new ideas are not given to the 
customer as quickly as the old ones are absorbed, her 
mind will regain its freedom and go into realms of its 
own selection. In other words, the customer's thinking 
has ceased to be directed^ and when this happens the sales- 
person has lost control of the situation. Whether or not 
the former tactical advantage can be regained depends on 
the ability of the salesperson to redirect the customer's 
thought along lines most advantageous for the creation 
of desire. On the other hand, if new ideas are introduced 
before the old ones have been assimilated, the customer 
has mental indigestion and rapidly loses interest in what 
the salesperson is saying. If the customer is observed 
closely at this point in the selling process, it will be quite 
evident when ideas have taken effect and when they have 
not. 

Third, questions should he answered readily. If there 



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RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 




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!*M 



is any hesitancy in answering questions the customer's 
confidence is shaken, and it is difficult to regain it at this 
point in the sale. Friction or inability of any kind are 
especially conspicuous when the salesperson is gathering 
momentum for the closing. A complete knowledge of 
the goods is necessary to create desire. No matter what 
the customer wants to know, it should be given if asked 
for. Salespeople cannot afford to be found wanting in 
this respect for the simple reason that this knowledge is 
of incalculable value and can readily be acquired.^ 

Fourth, objections should he anticipated,^ Objections 
are doubly effective when expressed during the last stage 
of the selling process even though they are adequately 
answered. When objections are met before they are ex- 
pressed they lose their force and act in no way to lessen 
desire but rather to increase it. It is no doubt difficult 
to anticipate all objections during any one sale but there 
is no sale in which some objections cannot be forestalled. 
The strength of the sales talk is increased in proportion 
to the number of objections anticipated. In order to be 
sure of forestalling some objections the salesperson can 
make a study of the most commonly expressed objections 
and how they may best be answered. The results of this 
analysis may then be incorporated into the sales talk which 
will become capable of removing the hidden objections in 
a large percentage of cases. 

Fifth, the most vital selling points should be used. 
One or two of these should have been used previously 
in arousing interest, but now these should be emphasized 
again and enlarged upon. Also, new vital selling points 
must be presented. Whatever may be said to make the 
customer want the article, should now be disclosed. Glit- 

1 Sec page 32 ff. 2 See page 184 ff. 



THE SELLING PROCESS 



181 



tering generalities have no place here. The big out- 
standing features of the merchandise should be made to 
dominate the customer's mind to the exclusion of every 
competing idea. These must then be related to the 
customer; they are of little use unless connected up with 
needs. 

Sixth, other purchasers' experience should be cited. 
Have other people, including the salesperson, used the 
merchandise? What have they to say regarding its 
claims?^ Sometimes it is not diplomacy for the sales- 
person to tell the customer that she has used certain 
goods herself and likes them, because some customers 
do not want to buy anything that a salesperson buys. Es- 
pecially is this true of ready-to-wear. On the other hand, 
salespeople often feel that they have won the customer's 
confidence and respect and may strengthen their case by 
referring to themselves. Whether or not the salesper- 
son's personal experience is referred to must depend upon 
the type of customer and related circumstances. Other 
customers' experiences may be advanced without the dan- 
ger that attends the salesperson's own experience, but 
even here care must be taken in using people's names. If 
the people referred to are held in high esteem by the cus- 
tomer, well and good, but if such is not the case great 
harm may be done by quoting them. Citing other cus- 
tomers' experiences is valuable not only because it sub- 
stantiates the claims of the salesperson but also because 
it appeals to the instinct of imitation.^ 

Seventh, the evidence of manufacturers or other au- 
thorities should be used.^ Sometimes educators, scien- 
tists, manufacturers and others have evidence that is of 



1 See pages 44, 77. 2 See page 78. 



3 See pages 43-4. 



l82 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



' 1 



a convincing character. If this proof is brought to the 
attention of the customer, her desire for the article is 
created, because she feels that the merit of the merchan- 
dise is universally accepted and is greater than she had 
anticipated. The creation of this new element of value 
freshens the sales talk and helps to construct a conception 
of value that is commensurate with price. 

Eighth, getting the customer to agree with the sales- 
person is an effective means of creating desire. If the 
customer agrees once it is easier for her to agree again. 
On the other hand, if the salesperson encourages argu- 
ment the possibility of increasing opposition is augmented. 
Action tends to take place along the lines of agreement, 
so if enough agreement can be induced, opposition is elim- 
inated and action appropriate to reason ensues. Asking 
a customer her opinion of the merchandise often brings 
words of praise which react on her making her enthusi- 
astically desirous of the goods. A sale does not " grow " 
like Topsy; it is built up by conscious effort with positive 
elements such as agreement. 

Actions. First, the right quantities should he shown. 
In selling ready-to-wear the tendency is to show too much. 
The customer is overcome by the extensive array and 
wide variety of merchandise and has difficulty in concen- 
trating her attention on any one article. In the case of 
yard goods oftentimes not enough is shown. The cus- 
tomer feels that the salesperson is not willing to go to the 
trouble of bringing down and displaying a wide range of 
merchandise. There is a happy mean between these two 
extremes. Like ideas, no more merchandise should be 
exhibited than can be readily observed and assimilated. 
The customer must be able to note and remember the at- 
tractive features of each article, otherwise accurate com- 



THE SELLING PROCESS 



183 



parisons are impossible. If too limited a stock is dis- 
played the customer soon assimilates their qualities and 
becomes uneasy. Her interest does not develop into de- 
sire unless her appetite for seeing is satisfied. By care- 
ful observation of the customer, correct quantities of 
goods can be shown. 

Second, comparison with other goods. This compari- 
son should reveal the points of superiority. Without 
" knocking " lower priced goods, or goods of competi- 
tors,^ the salesperson may show exactly wherein her goods 
contain more value for the price. Demonstration often 
reveals excellence better than words. Thus, if a cus- 
tomer reclines in a $60 davenport and then rests in a 
$100 one, the superiority of one over the other is actually 
experienced. A desire for the better article is created 
whether or not the customer can afford to pay the higher 
price. Again, if the customer can be made to realize that 
a certain mail order house rug, while it looks similar to 
one in the store, is cheaper because it has ten per cent 
of jute woven into it, the salesperson has ^ven a reason 
for the higher price of her rug and demonstrated its su- 
periority at the same time. Unfortunately, too often the 
salesperson does not know the true character of com- 
petitors' goods and therefore cannot speak with author- 
ity. It means nothing for the salesperson to say that she 
thinks her rug is better; she has to know and demonstrate 
her knowledge before opposition in the customer's mind 
is broken down and desire created. 

Third, the more of the senses that are appealed to, the 
more efficient is the sales talk in creating desire.^ The 
only means of approach to the brain is through the five 
senses. If the salesperson can work out sense appeals 

1 See page i88. ^ See page 46 ff. 



.z-,=~^~-^.^^^„.amam~~« , fflfU 'YT^ 



184 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



.'Uji! 






for everything she sells, the greater will be the possibility 
of getting people to desire goods. Much yet remains to 
be done in this field. 

CLOSING THE SALE 

The final step in the selling process may be successfully 
accomplished by certain definite appeals by words and 
actions, yet, first of all, the salesperson must be able to 
recognize the best time to close. With the impulsive 
type the sale may not be closed in time ; with the deliber- 
ative customer it may be closed too quickly. The prob- 
lem of when to close arises with the other types as well. 
No one can tell the salesperson just when to close. She 
must be able to sense when the psychological moment has 
arrived. Study plus experience will develop this ability. 
If the previous three steps have been well performed, the 
last step should not be extremely difficult. Yet there are 
certain subtle factors which tend to obstruct decision, a 
consideration of which in the following paragraphs should 
aid the salesperson in successfully overcoming them. 

Closing by Words, First, handling objections. No 
matter how effective the sales talk, or how much interest 
has been developed, if an objection presents itself in 
the customer's mind and is not dislodged, the salesperson 
is prevented from closing the sale. Such objections are 
known in psychology as inhibiting ideas. As long as 
these ideas or objections are prominent in the customer's 
mind, or are even lurking in the margin of her conscious- 
ness, she will not decide to buy. All obstructions to de- 
cision, expressed or unvoiced, must be eliminated before 
the fourth step in the selling process can be reached. 
The express train of selling effort cannot reach its desti- 



THE SELLING PROCESS 1 85 

nation — sales — unless it has a clear track on which to 
operate. 

The salesperson should know quite thoroughly the ob- 
structions that are most likely to be thrown into the path 
of her sales talk. Preparation to meet objections is the 
only successful way of handling them. Extemporaneous 
treatment is fraught with danger. Naturally, unexpected 
objections that under no circumstances could be foreseen 
and provided for, will come up from time to time during 
any day's work. Clever impromptu handling of such by 
able salespeople often occurs, but, unfortunately, this suc- 
cess sometimes obscures the necessity for careful study to 
meet most effectively the objections that usually occur. 

Not only should the salesperson be prepared to meet 
expressed objections, but also unexpressed objections or 
inhibiting ideas. These inhibiting ideas can often be as- 
certained by noting the attitude of the customer when the 
price is mentioned or when quality or style is explained 
or emphasized. If the buying motive can thus be ascer- 
tained, the most logical inhibiting ideas detrimental to a 
sale may be disclosed and effectively eliminated according 
to prearranged plans. To ably meet an objection that 
is Stated, is good salesmanship, but to anticipate and 
adroitly meet an unexpressed objection thereby forestall- 
ing it, is better salesmanship. Inhibiting ideas should be 
killed while they are still on the fringe of consciousness ; — 
before they come to hold the center of the stage. 

Some of the most common objections, whether stated 
or unexpressed, are known to every experienced and able 
salesperson. One of these is price. How often has the 
objection, '' the price is too high," ended all effort to 
consummate a sale. When customers say this do they 



«ti 



i86 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



mean that the price Is absolutely too high for them, i. e., 
that they actually cannot afford It, or do they mean that 
the store Is asking too much for the goods, I. e., that a 
lower price would Insure a fair profit? Or may It be 
possible that customers in some cases may mean neither 
of these possibilities? Sometimes people use the above 
phrase to cover up a general disinclination to buy. Be- 
cause of the latter use, this phrase has developed Into a 
commercial term, which, when expressed, usually Indicates 
that the salesperson has failed to gain the Interest of the 
customer. Redoubled effort to interest the customer is 
the best means of handling this objection under these cir- 
cumstances. 

Where price appears to be the real stumbling block to 
the sale, i. e., when the customer feels that she cannot af- 
ford it, the reason usually Is because the salesperson has 
not demonstrated that the worth of the article (Its ability 
to satisfy wants) Is equal to the price or is fairly repre- 
sented by it. In cases of this kind the trouble is with 
the customer's estimate of the article's value. Her con- 
ception of value Is faulty because of her lack of apprecia- 
tion, which in turn Is due to the negligence or inability of 
the salesperson to supply it. The customer must be made 
to feel the sensations of a possessor; she should realize 
distinctly the satisfactions that would accrue to her in 
return for the price asked. 

The worth of the article is what the customer could 
get out of it; the value is what the customer thinks she 
could get out of It. The worth must be equal to or 
greater than the customer's conception of Its value if the 
sale is to be permanently satisfactory. Whether or not 
the customer buys depends on the salesperson's display 
of the article's virtues and their relationship to the needs 



THE SELLING PROCESS 



187 



of the customer. Hugh Chalmers says, " If you need 
an article, you pay for It whether you buy it or not." To 
show the need Is often the business of the salesperson. 
Needs do not always present themselves clearly to the 
customer. In order to be fully realized they have to be 
held before the attention. Worth becomes value when 
anv article Is fully appreciated. No commodity is highly 
valued or " Is worth much " until its qualities and their 
relationship to the customer is known. Hence the ne- 
cessity of " knowing." 

Price Is the money expression of the costs of produc- 
tion and distribution, Including a legitimate profit In both. 
It should not be more than the worth of the article and is 
oftentimes less. If the customer's conception of the 
article's value Is less than its price, not only should the 
worth of the article be further demonstrated, but also the 
reason for the price, I. e., the care taken in Its manufac- 
ture, products used, processes gone through, and any other 
features that might Interest the customer. Especially 
with high priced articles Is It necessary to explain the 
manufacture and selling costs to a thrifty customer. To 
thus legitimatize the price is often the only way to close 
a sale, even when the worth of the article Is fully re- 
alized by the customer. Unfortunately, ignorance of 
the factors that go to make up cost often stands in the 
way of meeting an objection against price itself. 

A second objection often met Is sometimes expressed 
by the phrases, " I want to look around before I decide," 
or, *' I'll think It over and come In again." Unexpressed, 
it is indicated by uneasiness on the part of the customer 
when the salesperson attempts to close the sale. In the 
latter case the customer may not be able to adversely 
criticize the article In any way and may desire it. How- 



«l 



i 




i88 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



ever, in the margin of her consciousness Is the inhibiting 
idea that possibly a better bargain may be secured else- 
where, and that there will be regret later if action is 
premature or hasty. 

When the salesperson realizes that the customer is 
desirous of shopping before coming to a decision, what 
should be her attitude toward the situation? Should she 
attack competitors or try to depreciate their lines? Al- 
though this is often done it Is poor salesmanship. The 
result of such action is a feeling on the part of the cus- 
tomer that the salesperson fears the competitors and is 
afraid the sale will be lost if she has a chance to look 
around. This increases the customer's desire to do so. 
There is an old saying, " If your competitor talks about 
you, put him on your pay roll. It does not matter what 
he says so long as he talks." Talking about one's com- 
petitor or his goods suggests that these are Important 
considerations — important because they have forced 
themselves to the front for consideration. But when 
competitors' goods have been brought Into the foreground 
by the customer, their merit should be recognized; they 
cannot be ignored. Competitors and competing goods 
can best be placed in the background by describing thor- 
oughly the merit of the goods the salesperson is trying to 
sell. One department manager, when asked how he 
handled " shoppers," said, " We endeavor to sell them. 
Women will always look around before they buy, so we 
realize that we cannot always get their order at first. 
But we try to find something In the line they are Inter- 
ested in that entirely suits them, and then we endeavor 
to Interest them in this article and get them to desire it 
so much that anything else, no matter where it is found, 
will not appeal to them." To sell goods on their merits 



THE SELLING PROCESS 



189 



rather than on the demerits of competitors' goods, is 
good salesmanship. 

If the customer expresses her desire to look elsewhere, 
it is always wise for the salesperson to appear perfectly 
willing to have her do so. To attack the idea of looking 
elsewhere brings It from the margin Into the focus of 
consciousness and makes it more effective in controlling 
action. Confidence should be expressed that no competi- 
tor can surpass the article in merit, but that the customer 
cannot fully realize this until she has seen other articles. 
Renewed energy should then be put forth In summing up 
the points of merit possessed by the article, and in bring- 
ing out new clinching arguments. Nothing will sell 
goods to a customer prone to look around, so much as a 
willingness exhibited by the salesperson for her to look 
elsewhere, and a large fund of convincing information 
about the goods. Customers, like children, have a tend- 
ency to do what they are not desired to do ; so when the 
salesperson answers their declaration of looking around 
by commending it and advising its performance, forces 
are at once set at work In the customer's mind opposing 
its own suggestion and tending to eliminate Its practical 
application. Expressed or Implied unwillingness to have 
a customer look around before purchasing Is justifiable 
under no conditions and Is usually evidence of the inabil- 
ity of the salesperson to arouse the Interest of the cus- 
tomer In the goods. This may be due to the defects of 
the goods themselves but more often it is due to the blun- 
ders of the salesperson. Restraint is not a proper nor 
is it an effective way of selling goods. 

A third objection to closing a sale may be the presence 
in the customer's mind of Inhibiting ideas in the form of 
rival desires competing to be satisfied. Thus, if a set 



m 




M 



190 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



of encyclopedias is purchased, a trip to the Adirondacks 
must be foregone; or if a set of furs is bought, an old 
piece of furniture may escape the discard. Since most 
people have limited means, one purchase usually displaces 
another, although customers may infrequently view a 
purchase in terms of goods gone without. With high 
priced articles, however, if the satisfying ability of one is 
pitted against the satisfying ability of the other, a logical 
buying judgment is formed that will insure maximum 
satisfaction. The salesperson can better display the 
merits of her goods if she can obtain knowledge of com- 
peting desires that serve as inhibiting ideas. Often- 
times this information can be secured from something that 
the customer may say, or by questioning her. Knowl- 
edge of such objections places the salesperson in a po- 
sition to advise the customer and perhaps remove her 
from an unsatisfactory dilemma. 

A fourth objection sometimes expressed is, " My hus- 
band must see it." Where the customer is sincere noth- 
ing remains for the salesperson to do except wait for the 
husband to come. However, in many cases this objec- 
tion is expressed merely to give some reason for not pur- 
chasing an article for which no desire has been created. 
It thus resembles the objection, " Price too high." The 
salesperson should realize that interest has not been thor- 
oughly developed, and an attempt must be made to more 
intimately connect up the sales talk with the characteris- 
tics of the customer and her needs. 

If the sale is lost, a searching analysis of the reasons 
therefor should be made. In going over the sales talk it 
will usually be found that important points were omitted 
or else thrown into the talk haphazardly. Perhaps the 
needs of the customer were not sufficiently considered or 



mmmm 



THE SELLING PROCESS 



191 



ascertained. Possibly other reasons could be advanced 
for failure to close the sale. Not in all cases can the real 
reason for the loss of a sale be ascertained, but analysis 
is the only means of finding the reason in any case. If 
reasons for the loss of half the sales could be determined, 
corrective salesmanship would earn big results. That 
some causes for failure to close sales would be unearthed 
by study is beyond question, and this alone is sufficient 
justification for careful analysis of each sale. 

A fifth objection is, " It's not the right kind," meaning 
perhaps, not the brand usually used. Thus, on being 
shown a certain brand of underwear, the customer asked, 
"Haven't you the Blank brand?" The salesperson 
sadly announced that she did not. The customer left, 
saying that only the Blank brand would suit her. In re- 
ality, the underwear offered by the salesperson was su- 
perior to that asked for, but the salesperson did not know 
it. Competing goods must be known as well as the 
goods on the shelves. Customers must be educated to 
see advantages in other goods, and the ability of these 
goods to better satisfy their needs. No customer will 
ever feel imposed upon by a salesperson if the latter con- 
scientiously shows the relative superiority of goods. 
Service is desired and appreciated when offered. 

The offering of objections should not be solicited or 
encouraged, as ideas contrary to closing the sale are 
thereby brought into the focus of consciousness. A new 
line of thought is started which will have a tendency to 
eliminate the interest already aroused. The salesperson 
should seek to make the customer forget all objections by 
intensely interesting her. 

This does not mean that objections should not be an- 
ticipated and forestalled. Such a policy lessens the force 



192 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



THE SELLING PROCESS 



193 



•i 



of the objection. What is meant is, that unless the sales- 
person is quite certain that a certain objection exists it is 
unwise to mention it. If it does not exist, the customer 
may think that the salesperson is setting up a man of 
straw in order to show her cleverness in knocking him 
down; or else, she may adopt the suggested objection and 
the interest that has already been gained will be endan- 
gered. Clever questioning will often indicate when a 
certain objection exists, without increasing its importance 
by encouraging the customer to voice it. When unspoken 
objections are met and answered, unconsciously the cus- 
tomer feels that she is understood — that she is in the 
hands of a capable salesperson who knows her needs. 
Needless to say, the ability to anticipate objections can 
only come through the study of experiences and custom- 
ers. No one can be 100 per cent efficient in such delicate 
dealings with human nature but every salesperson can 
have the satisfaction of knowing that she is dealing more 
scientifically with the problems arising in her work. 

Second, other reasons for delay must he ascertained. 
What is meant is illustrated by the following incident. A 
farmer and his wife were undecided whether to purchase 
a $125 or a $200 coat for the latter. Both of them 
showed a preference for the higher priced garment but 
something was delaying decision. The salesperson re- 
alized that if she did not close the sale soon the cheaper 
coat would be selected. The farmer was well-to-do and 
prosperous, so the salesperson could not believe that 
the desire to economize prompted delay. Finally, the 
salesperson surmised that a misconception of values pre- 
vented decision, so she said, " Why, the difference in price 
between these two coats only amounts to the price of one 
of the calves on your farm." Immediately the farmer's 



mind went back to the farm where he saw many calves. 
He could hardly realize that he was letting one of these 
common insignificant creatures stand between his wife 
and the $200 coat. Quickly he said, *' Guess we'll take 
the best one." In this case, even though the farmer was 
well-to-do, dollars were very significant and of great value 
to him because he had few of them. But calves were 
lightly esteemed because he saw them every day and had 
many of them. Translating dollars in terms of a calf 
removed the obstruction to decision. That such work is 
of a high mental character goes without saying. Quick 
thinking and analysis of reasons for delay closed the sale 
for the higher priced article. Other cases could be given 
to illustrate the point, but enough has been said if the 
salesperson realizes that delay in decision exists only 
because the reasons for delay have not been discovered 
and eliminated, A high quality of mental effort which 
results from training is needed in all phases of present 
day retailing. 

Third, referring to the customer's approval of the 
merchandise tends to suggest a finality which is favorable 
for inducing decision. The customer wishes to be con- 
sidered logical, but her position in this respect appears 
endangered if she does not confirm her former words of 
approbation. The act of confirming them strengthens 
the salesperson's position and weaves the threads of the 
sale more closely about the customer. Enough approval 
and the sale is inevitably made. 

Fourth, the advantage of immediate buying should be 
shown. This is illustrated by the following incident. 
Some linen yard goods were on display for forty cents 
per yard, marked down from fifty. A customer was tell- 
ing the salesperson that she was going to " wait " until 



Hi 






194 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



THE SELLING PROCESS 



195 



n 



m 



linens were cheaper, as forty cents was an *' outrageous '' 
price for such goods. The salesperson had no " come- 
back " to offer. One of the proprietors, overhearing the 
reason for not purchasing immediately, asked the cus- 
tomer when she believed orderly conditions would be re- 
stored in Russia. Russia was in such a turmoil at the 
time that the customer was forced to smile. She replied 
that she did not believe it would be for some time. Then 
the proprietor went on to show how that country was one 
of the great flax producers and unless trade opened up 
soon prices of linens would rise still higher. The reduced 
price of the linens on display was then referred to in such 
a way as to make the customer feel that she was being 
shown a favor to be offered such a reasonable price. This 
explanation, giving a reason for immediate purchase, sold 
several yards of linen. In many cases there are reasons 
why customers should not postpone buying, but they are 
seldom obvious to either the salesperson or the customer. 
They are known only as the result of looking for them, 
i. e., study with a definite end in view. 

Fifth, the customer's consent can sometimes be obtained 
by suggesting that the decision has been made. When 
the customer is balancing between buying and not buying 
the slightest word may make or lose a sale. A ready-to- 
wear salesperson suggested that the customer had de- 
cided to purchase a certain suit, when she said, " You 
couldn't have decided on a more attractive suit." A fur- 
niture salesperson said in closing the sale, " Mrs. Jones, 
you have selected the best davenport we have in stock." 
A men's furnishings salesperson remarked, " Now, let me 
show you a necktie that you will enjoy wearing with that 
shirt." All of these quotations indicate a finality of de- 
cision which induces decision if the customer's mind is in 



i 



the balance. With vacillating customers certain devices 
for inducing decision must be used or else the salesperson 
must decide for them herself. Examples of some de- 
vices used to induce the vacillating customer to decide 
are found elsewhere.^ 

Closing by actions. First, by eliminating other goods. 
If other goods are lying around the article in which the 
customer's interest has been most pronounced, their elim- 
ination will tend to make the customer feel that she has 
decided to purchase what remains on display. Her whole 
attention is thereby concentrated on one piece of mer- 
chandise and is not scattered over several. It is too com- 
mon a practice in retailing to allow piles of merchandise 
in which customers are not interested, but which distract 
their attention, to lie on the counter in close proximity to 
merchandise the salesperson is trying to sell. The very 
act of taking these extraneous goods away lends a feel- 
ing of conclusiveness to the selling process. Very often 
this simple act may induce the customer to decide to pur- 
chase the goods remaining. 

Second, by suggesting that decision is made. Some 
salespeople induce decision by folding up the merchandise, 
setting it to one side, and reaching for the sales book. 
A ladies' ready-to-wear salesperson performed this op- 
eration by calling to the fitter to inspect a garment that 
the customer had tried on. Any change of actions may 
be used to suggest that decision has been made. If 
earnest, intense actions have been used in bringing the 
customer up to the close, the direct opposite kind of 
actions, if introduced at the right moment, may produce 
the situation desired. A change of methods implies a 
change in thinking; it indicates a turning point in the sell- 

1 Page loi. 



'.n 



^^w 



f WW ' 



:l! 

Ill 



196^ RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 

Ing process — the Introduction of the new element of 
decision that brings the sale to a close. Practice and 
study will develop devices which will make it compara- 
tively easy for the customer to decide. The salesperson 
should always be on the lookout for such aids to selling 
since the number of sales closed depends on the number 
of people persuaded to purchase. 

INTRODUCING OTHER GOODS 

After the sale has been made, the salesperson is only 
75 per cent efficient unless she introduces new goods in 
a positive manner and secures good will for the store. 
The latter step in the selling process has already been 
discussed.^ The present discussion will give considera- 
tion to different methods of bringing other goods before 
the customer. 

A common method used Is negative suggestion, as, 
"Nothing else?" " That^s all?" "You wouldn't care 
to look at anything else?" Such phrases should never 
be used because they suggest negative answers. Auto- 
matically, people say " No " when such questions are 
asked. In fact, the writer has sometimes intended pur- 
chasing socks or shirts, but after buying collars these other 
articles have been forgotten because of the fateful finality 
of some such negative suggestion. Questions of this 
character are not methods of Introducing other goods 
although salespeople use them as such, but rather, meth- 
ods of chloroforming customer's minds. They are de- 
vices to make people forget what they actually Intended 
to buy. For these reasons they are worse than useless. 
The real foolishness and weakness of such methods are 
clear when the principle underlying them Is applied to 

1 Chapters VI and VIL 



THE SELLING PROCESS 



197 



Other fields. Thus, for instance, what would the girl 
think of the man who asked, " Mary, you wouldn't want 
to marry me, would you?" or, "You wouldn't want to 
go to the theater tonight, would you?" In the former 
case the girl would be getting out of It pretty easily and 
in the latter, the fellow. An agent came to the writer's 
home and said, " You wouldn't want your silverware 
plated, would you?" He was met with an emphatic 
*' No," whereupon he replied, " I didn't think you did." 
After he had gone it dawned upon the prospect that he 
did need his silverware plated, and badly. But that did 
the agent little good. This salesperson had suggested 
a negative answer and had received it. 

Another method of introducing other goods is by ask- 
ing a question in a positive manner, as, " Something 
else?" "Would you care to look at shirts?" "Would 
you be interested in anything else?" Such phrases are 
an improvement over the preceding ones but they all give 
the customer an opportunity to say " No." They place 
the issue before the customer In such a bald manner that 
a decision must be reached, and reaching a decision is 
always irksome. In most cases it Is easier to say " No " 
than it is to say " Yes." Moreover, the customer may 
feel that she will put herself under obligations to pur- 
chase if she answers In the affirmative. This, all cus- 
tomers hesitate to do. It is poor salesmanship to phrase 
questions so that the customer is given an alternative of 
not buying, or answering negatively. 

As an example of this principle, one newsboy calls, 
"News, Sir?" "Herald, Sir?" or, "Buy a News?" 
"Won't you buy a Herald?" while another boy says, 
" News or Herald, Sir? " In the case of the former boy 
his questions offer the customer the alternative of not buy- 






Ill 



' I 



198 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



ing, but the other boy gives no such alternative. Which- 
ever way the customer decides, a sale will be made. A 
men's ready-to-wear salesperson made use of questioning 
without offering the alternative of a negative reply, when 
he said, " Do you prefer light or heavy weight socks? '* 
The answer of the customer led to a brief discussion on 
socks which developed into a sale. 

The best method of Introducing other goods is not to 
ask questions either in a positive or negative way, but to 
show the goods. Obviously, where the customer is in a 
hurry this cannot be done, but excepting this case most 
customers are willing to look at other goods if the sales- 
person brings them out in a tactful manner and does not 
give the impression that the customer will be under obli- 
gations for having looked at them. There can be no 
delay in hunting other goods or in placing them before 
the customer. After a sale has been made and before 
the goods have been wrapped, the salesperson can have 
at hand some new goods or goods that she thinks the cus- 
tomer will be interested In, and these can be presented by 
some such phrase, " I thought you might be pleased to 
see some of our recent designs, '' or, " Here are some 
shirts that harmonize with the ties you have just pur- 
chased." 

It has been said that these suggestions should be made 
before the goods are wrapped. This is wisdom because 
there is a finality about wrapped goods which suggests 
that the purchase has been completed, while goods pur- 
chased and laid aside suggests that other goods can be 
placed with them. Some may think that this latter 
method is commonly followed, but the writer could give 
many instances where such has not been the case. In one 
instance, two packs of playing cards were purchased and 



aas 



THE SELLING PROCESS 



199 



after they were wrapped up the salesperson suggested 
score cards. Now it happened that score cards were ac- 
tually needed, but rather than go to the bother of having 
a new package wrapped or having the old one put into 
another package, the customer said " No." If the score 
cards had been produced and suggested along with the 
playing cards, they would have been purchased. 

In a discussion of introducing other goods the question 
arises, what goods should be suggested. In the first 
place, closely related articles. Thus, if socks are asked 
for, garters should be shown. Shirts suggest collars, ties, 
cuff-links. Screws suggest a screw-driver. Shoes sug- 
gest laces, cleaner, arches, etc. Such suggestions as 
these are elementary and fundamental. They should 
always be made. In the second place, goods less inti- 
mately related with the purchase should be shown. In 
the third place, merchandise in other departments should 
be suggested. Very few stores have complete enough 
cooperation between the different departments in this re- 
spect.^ The customer will appreciate any information 
that will enable her to find special values elsewhere in the 
store. But before such suggestions can be made, knowl- 
edge must be had of what other departments are offering. 
This information can only come from a careful reading 
of the daily advertisements of the store. 

By suggesting other goods after every sale, any sales- 
person can increase her total sales twenty per cent. This 
is a conservative estimate based on the experience of 
salespeople who have adopted the methods here indicated. 
There should be no hesitancy on the part of the salesper- 
son in performing this service because it is to the ad- 
vantage of the customer as well as of the store. Sales- 

^ See pages 83-4. 



fl* 



\i 



200 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



people are doing the customer a service If they can ascer- 
tain her present needs and anticipate her future desires. 
It is chiefly from the standpoint of service — a desire to 
help and satisfy the customer — that other goods should 
be introduced at the close of a sale. If the customer's 
satisfaction is always kept in mind, larger sales will natur- 
ally follow. Negative suggestions can be condemned 
chiefly on the grounds that they perform no service for 
the customer and oftentimes make people forget merchan- 
dise they intended purchasing. As an obstruction to the 
satisfaction of customers they should be eliminated. 



CHAPTER IX 

STORE SYSTEM AND METHOD 

The aim of Instruction In salesmanship Is to develop 
satisfactory service for the public as well as to bring 
greater profit to both salesperson and store as a result 
of higher efficiency. This aim cannot be realized if the 
sales check Is omitted from consideration, since it offers 
as many opportunities for error and Is productive of as 
much error as is the actual process of selling Itself. In- 
numerable Illustrations could be given where customers 
have become disgruntled and have refused to continue 
to purchase goods from certain stores simply because of 
mistakes which were traceable to the master error In the 
sales check. In some cases, trade has even been diverted 
to mail order houses and near-by cities, and the commu- 
nity as well as the stores has suffered. However, whether 
or not sales check errors have actually driven away trade 
in any particular case, the fact that they exist is sufficient 
cause for our effort to point them out, to indicate their 
consequences and to offer suggestions of a remedial char- 
acter. 

OMISSIONS 

Omitting valuable information on the sales check is a 
source of much annoyance and confusion. Among the 

most prominent omissions are the following: 

201 



] 



\<'\ 
-M 



\ i 



^, ■ p.|^.-,.-.7T- 



202 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



STORE SYSTEM AND METHOD 



203 



K" 




: it: 




I '! 



(a) Name. 

In case of a charge or C. O. D. order this error would 
prove a serious one. In the former case the store might 
be the loser of the goods and in the latter case the de- 
livery man might have infinite trouble finding the pur- 
chaser unless the address was exceptionally specific. 

(b) Letters in name. 

Wrong spelling of names cannot be justified under any 
circumstances. The salesperson should always ask the 
customer how the name is spelled, even if there seems no 
chance for error. This method of verifying first impres- 
sions is by no means a waste of time. It is in reality a 
conservator of time, for mistakes in names may mean that 
the wrong person will get the goods, or more probably 
that the wrong person will be charged with them. 

Some errors of this nature are illustrated in the fol- 
lowing : 



F. B. Herman 
S. M. Blakly 
C. F. Ruman 
P. W. Ivy 

B. O. Schmidt 

C. D. Layman 



should be 
should be 
should be 
should be 
should be 
should be 



F. B. Hermann 
S. M. Blakely 
C. F. Reuman 
P. W. Ivey 

B. O. Schmitt 

C. D. Lehmann 



(c) Items. 

If the name of any article sold Is not recorded on the 
sales check, loss to some party of the transaction may en- 
sue. Especially is this true If it is a charge account. 
The Item cannot be charged without extra Investigation 
and perhaps not even then. 

Care should not only be taken In inserting the item but 
also in inserting the quantity of each item. '* Handker- 



chiefs, .25 " means very little. This might indicate two 
or more, depending on the grade. To omit the number 
in the quantity column of the sales check is in reality omit- 
ting the item itself, since no knowledge is tabulated to 
Indicate " how many " items were sold. Only a guess 
as to the correct quantity can be arrived at from the 
figures in the dollars and cents column. 

(d) " In care of." 

A package should not be sent to a public place like a 
hotel or railroad station unless addressed to some indi- 
vidual. If the individual is not well-known or her ad- 
dress is temporary, she should be addressed " in care of " 
some responsible, well-known person. Failure to add 
" in care of " may mean that the customer fails to receive 
her order, or it may mean that the house loses the goods. 

An illustration of the former case is found in the fol- 
lowing instance : Mrs. Henry Plummer, Hortonville, N. 
Y., failed to get her order. She had asked the salesper- 
son from whom she made the purchase to send the pack- 
age " in care of Mrs. Milner, opposite the post office." 
The salesperson omitted to add this designation to the 
main address, and since no such address could be found 
in Hortonville (Mrs. Plummer lived some miles from 
town) the goods were returned to the store for a more 
adequate address. Because of this error, Mrs. Plummer 
failed to receive the goods in time for the occasion for 
which they were intended. 

(e) Numbers in address. 

Much loss of time and inconvenience is caused through 
omission of figures in addresses, illustrations of which are 
as follows: 



4: ^ 



204 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



should be 


3069 


should be 


7722 


should be 


508 


should be 


2206 



369 Chestnut Avenue 
722 Helmuth Avenue 
58 E. Rock Island St. 
206 Bloomington St. 



(f) House number. 

Quite commonly, salespeople write down the street 
address but omit the house number, especially when the 
name of the street is a number. Some examples of this 
mistake are seen in the following: 



J. B. Roe 

0. R. Meister 

1. L. Brown 
J. Houseman 



( 
( 
( 
( 



) Gemain Ave. 

) 1 8 th Street 

) Norfolk Ave. 

) W. 36th Street 



(g) Local address. 

Especially when the goods are sold to an out-of-town 
person, salespeople often forget to ask for the local ad- 
dress. In many cases, securing the town is not sufficient 
for prompt delivery of the goods, and unless the local 
address is likewise placed on the parcel the customer will 
be disappointed in not getting her goods when expected. 
The following are some examples of local address omis- 
sions : 

Roland E. Baird, Vinton; should be 

Elmwood Place and Magenta St., Vinton, Iowa. 
Miss Virginia Newcome, Rock Island, 111., should be 

4th St., Rock Island, 111. 
Mrs. Frank Pierce, St. Martin, Minn., should be 

Cor. School House and County Road, St. Martin, 
Minn. 



STORE SYSTEM AND METHOD 



205 



( h ) Locality — town. 

Not so common an error, but a serious and irretriev- 
able one, is the omission of the name of the town, when 
the customer lives in another locality from that in which 
the store is located. Illustrations of this error are as 
follows : 

6^6 Jefferson St., Minn., should include Austin. 
47 N. 9th St., Iowa, should include Washington. 
22 E. University Ave., Iowa, should include Iowa City. 
18 E. Hickory and 33d Sts., Iowa, should include 
Council Bluffs. 

Closely allied with the omission of the town is the sub- 
stitution of the name of the city where the goods are 
purchased for the purchaser's town. This occurs to a 
large extent through the misleading term of " City." 
Thus a customer gave her address as 675 Leon St. The 
salesperson said *' City? " and the customer absentmind- 
edly said " Yes." Later, upon receiving complaint that 
her order was not received, she was located in another 
town. 

Some further examples of this error are as follows: 

307 N. 7th St., Cedar Rapids, Iowa, should be Belle 
Plaine, Iowa. 

12 12 Bloomington St., Iowa City, Iowa, should be 
Tipton, Iowa. 

738 Crawford St., City, should be Marengo, Iowa. 

201 W. 3rd St., City, should be Moline, '111. 

(i) Omissions and other errors in designation of direc- 
tion. 
Errors of this nature mean much expense in the aggre- 
gate as two delivery trips are necessitated by them. 






206 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



Their apparent Insignificance may partially account for 
their great number. A few illustrations are as follows : 



672 E. 64th St. 
1498 N. 2 1st St. 
306 N. Berry Ave. 
405 Morris St. 



should be 
should be 
should be 
should be 

TRANSPOSITIONS 



W. 64th St. 

S. 2 I St. St. 

306 Northbury Ave. 
405 W. Morris St. 



(a) Letters. 

Transposition of letters is always due to carelessness 
and when made in charge names often causes confusion 
and ill will toward the store. People are charged with 
that which they did not order and those who have the 
goods in their possession receive no bill for them. Be- 
cause of the nature of some names it is very easy to trans- 
pose letters, as is seen in the following cases: 



J. G. Neider 
M. Mackenfroth 
R. L. Storm 
E. J. Romsley 
C. A. Steckel 



should be 
should be 
should be 
should be 
should be 



J. G. Nieder 
M. Mackenforth 
R. L. Strom 
E. J. Ormsley 
C. A. Steckle 



(b) Figures. 

While there is great danger of error from transpo- 
sition of letters, there is even greater danger from trans- 
position of figures. In the latter case, if the goods are 
delivered on a charge account they are often left at the 
residence of the wrong person, and even if not lost as is 
sometimes the case, the goods do not get into the hands 
of the right person at the time they were due and a dis- 
satisfied customer results. Dissatisfaction often becomes 
contagious and in time may mean a tremendous loss to 



STORE SYSTEM AND METHOD 



207 



the store — all as the result of transposing two small 
figures. 

Some common cases of transposed figures in street 
numbers are as follows: 



43 1 Wilmington Ave. 


should be 


413 


1708 Ft. Madison St. 


should be 


7108 


1 6 14 Columbus St. 


should be 


1416 


302 23d Ave. N. 


should be 


203 



(c) Transposition of purchaser's name and street name. 
This error, as illustrated in the following cases, is very 
apt to occur unless the salesperson exercises close atten- 
tion to every detail of the address. 

R. M. French, 478 Brown St., should be 

R. M. Brown, 478 French St. 
E. L. Forest, 11 92 Forrester Ave., should be 

E. L. Forrester, 11 92 Forest Ave. 
O. F. McBrlde, 2700 McBroom St., should be 

O. F. McBroom, 2700 McBrlde St. 
C. G. Dickman, No. 10 Hickerson Apartments, Hark- 
ness Blvd., should be 

C. G. Harkness, No. 10 Dickman Apartments, Hick- 
erson Blvd. 

Together with these cases of transposition of pur- 
chaser's name and street name, may be given the closely 
allied cases illustrating substitution of purchaser's name 
for street name and vice versa : 

Mr. S. T. Shelby, 582 Shelby St., should be Green St. 
Mrs. Harrison Crawford, 178 1 Harrison Ave., should 

be Marion Ave. 
Mrs. M. O'Brien, 2004 O'Brien St., should be Oberlin St. 



i. 



2o8 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



STORE SYSTEM AND METHOD 



209 



Miss L. D. Freeborn, 814 Freeborn Place, should be Miss 

L. D. Furman. 
Mr. Otto Davies, 1262 Davies St., should be Mr. Otto 
I Nordstrum. 

INDISTINCT AND ILLEGIBLE WRITING 

One of the most important requisites of a salesperson is 
that she should write well. A salesperson who writes 
items, names and figures so that one able to read cannot 
comprehend them, must soon fail. As a rule, illegibility 
results from carelessness, lack of pressure on the pencil 
or because of misplaced carbon. Whatever the reason, 
the salesperson should examine her sales checks from 
time to time and note any bad tendencies in writing that 
exist or are developing. A little systematic practice will 
enable any salesperson to write plainly. To ignore, con- 
sciously or unconsciously, the necessity for correction 
of careless writing, invites justly the charge of laziness 
and incompetency. 

A. Some errors due to illegible and Indistinct writing 
are as follows : 



If 1 1 



(a) Names of persons. 

P. W. Quay written for 

Miss Janet Nullke written for 

J. A. C. Fost written for 

Prof. W. R. Frayer written for 

Mrs. B. Juman written for 

Mrs. N. A. Holland written for 

(b) Names of streets. 

Clinton St., written to look like 
Ronald St., written to look like 



P. W. Ivey 
Miss Janet Muelke 
J. A. C. Fort 
Prof. W. R. Frazer 
Mrs. B. Inman 
Mrs. N. O. Holland 



Hinton St. 
Donald St. 



Summer Ave., 
Barrett St., 
Cooper St., 
Case St., 



written to look like 

written to look like 

written to look like 

written to look like 



Sumner Ave. 
Garrett St. 
Copper St. 
Cass St. 



(c) Names of places. 



Lounsbury 

Bentonville 

Fremont 

Leesburg 

Beardstown 

Bairdstown 



written to 

written to 

written to 

written to 

written to 

written to 



look like 
look like 
look like 
look like 
look like 
look like 



Lowsbury 

Hurtonville 

Tremont 

Leesbury 

Bairdstown 

Randstown 



(d) House numbers. 



1255 W. 6th St. 


should be 


1253 


1012 Maiden Lane 


should be 


1017 


373 Elm St. 


should be 


573 


606 Worster Ave. 


should be 


3606 


189 N. 1 8th St. 


should be 


489 



It should be noted that 5's and 3's, 2's and 7's, and I's 
and 4's are often mistaken for each other. 

B. Misplaced carbon causes many errors. The car- 
bon may shift out of its proper place causing omissions, 
or it may become thin resulting in indistinct writing; but 
whichever is the case, the trouble as a consequence means 
a big loss — the deliveryman must make two trips while 
in some cases there is absolute failure to deliver the 
goods. 

Examples of some errors due to misplaced or poor 
carbon are as follows: 



#l! 



210 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



(a) Names of streets and number of houses. 



1158 
2145 N. 
182 



21 II W. 4 
1607 S. I 

409 N. 17 



Mangold 

dac 
ney Ave. 



should be 1 158 New Mangold 
should be 2145 N. Cardac 
should be 3182 Fordney Ave. 
should be 21 11 W. 47th St. 
should be 1607 S. nth St. 
should be 4409 N. 17th St. 



(b) Names of persons. 

Most of the errors of this kind are caused by the car- 
bon not being high enough. Here It will only be possible 
to indicate cases where the carbon was not parallel with 
the sides of the sales check. 



F. S. Carrol 
Fred Buchan 
J. C. Jacobs 
W. Mathe 
Nester Milfo 



should be 
should be 
should be 
should be 
should be 

ABBREVIATIONS 



F. S. Carroll 
Fred Buchanan 
J. C. Jacobson 
W. Mathewson 
Nester Milford 



(a) Items. 

Less mistakes in interpreting sales items would occur 
if the salesperson realized that what Is evident to her 
may be Incomprehensible to the proprietor, those In the 
office, or the order-filler. If the items are obscure be- 
cause of abbreviation or for any reason whatsoever, such 
mistakes may mean the delivery of the wrong goods, in- 
terruption of the perpetual inventory if such is kept, and 
delay which cannot be viewed other than as a loss of 
money. No abbreviations excepting standard ones like 
doz., oz., etc., should be written. Some Illustrations of 
bad abbreviations in sales items are as follows ; 



STORE SYSTEM AND METHOD 211 

I Alum. K for i two qt. aluminum Berlin kettle 

I L. Mow. for I Drummer lawn mower 

I Chair for i American Walnut Windsor chair 

I Rem. for i remnant georgette crepe 

12 Yds. goods for 12 yards gingham 

1 Cam. for i camisole 

2 Stocks for 2 prs. stockings 

I suit for I misses blue serge suit 

I F. Cook. for I Reliable fireless cooker 

Closely allied with abbreviation is the tendency to con- 
tract names of Items, often resulting in an Incorrect name 
that may be the case of misunderstanding. Thus, the 
item I dog, should have been i toy dog; i brush, i shoe 
brush; i mat, i table mat; i tablet, i note book; i lantern, 
I magic lantern; 2 dishes, 2 wash basins. 

Futher, there is a tendency for salespeople to place un- 
der one designation several Items of the same kind but 
of different quality. In order to make the transaction 
entirely clear to all parties concerned, each item should 
have its particular rate specified according to Its cus- 
tomary measurement, such as: per, @, doz., pkg., for, 
etc. Thus, if four shirts were purchased for a total 
amount of $9.50, they should be separately itemized as 
follows : 

I shirt $2.50 

1 shirt 3.00 

2 shirts @ 2.00 .4.00 

If certain articles are sold in lots, such Information 
should be clearly specified as Illustrated by the following: 

3 ties for $2.00 

I nest bowls 5^ 



212 RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 

1 pkg, needles $ .10 

y2 doz. men's hose 2.00 

2 boxes crayons 3-00 

I black muskrat set 7S*oo 

(scarf and muff) 

(b) Towns and street name. 

N. Gate Ave. written for Northgate Ave. 

Man. Hts. written for Manvllle Heights 

Newburg C. written for Newburg Center 

Grafton C. written for Grafton City 

Bl. Vis. PI. written for Belle Vista Place 

Green Lk. J. written for Green Lake June. 

E. Erbrook St. written for Easterbrook St. 

Spr. Val. written for Spring Valley 

Ft. S. Hampton written for Fort Southhampton 

PHONETIC ERRORS 

Errors of this nature are sometimes due to a lack of 
appreciation of sound. Because of different degrees of 
clearness In hearing, salespeople differ In their suscepti- 
bllltv to confuse similar sounds. 

A second reason for phonetic errors is carelessness. 
This latter reason accounts for most mistakes of this na- 
ture. Salespeople put down on the sales check what they 
think they hear Instead of being certain that their concep- 
tion Is the accurate one. 

A question will always clear up the possibility of error 
and impresses the customer as business-like and pains- 
taking. The possibilities are that she has had trouble 
before on account of misspelled names, places and locali- 
ties, and will welcome the endeavor to prevent any mis- 
understanding. 



STORE SYSTEM AND METHOD 



213 



The following are illustrations of some prominent 
cases of error that have necessitated two or more trips 
by drivers, verification by salespeople on charge accounts, 
and disappointment to customers because of delay: 

(a) Names of persons. 



R. D. S. Jarden 


written for 


R. Des Jarden 


C. R. Gray 


written for 


C. R. Graves 


A. Elwood 


written for 


A. L. Wood 


M. Kohler 


written for 


M. K. Ohler 


P. A. Dare 


written for 


P. Adair 


J. W. Dickenson 


written for 


J. W. DIckerson 


J. Swing 


written for 


J. S. Wing 


E. Fordering 


written for 


E. F. Ordering 


B. C. Kay 


written for 


B. C. Cade 


R. N. Lighter 


written for 


R. N. Leiter 


P. 0. Weyl 


written for 


P. 0. Leyl 


(b) Names of streets. 




Weller 


written for 


Woeller 


Ayre 


written for 


Ware 


Woodland 


written for 


Woodlawn 


Morton 


written for 


Horton 


Elm 


written for 


Allen 


Anderson 


written for 


Henderson 


Hammond 


written for 


Harmen 


North 


written for 


Fourth 


Morris 


written for 


Mt. Morris 


Church 


written for 


Birch 


Roy 


written for 


Royce 



li 



214 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



(c) 



House numbers 


• 






4001 N. Cliff e 




written for 1401 


22X2 E. 8th 




written for 2012 


3556 Madison 




written for 2556 


2223 Rarldan 




written for 2233 


6366 Proctor 




written for 53^6 


3134 N. 27th 




written for 4134 


878 N. 32nd 




written for 868 


2717 W. nth 




writter 


I for 2727 


Names of places. 






Hanover 


written 


for 


Conover 


Afton 


written 


for 


Grafton 


Bixley 


written 


for 


Hlxley 


Falrbow 


written 


for 


Faribault 


Hamburg 


written 


for 


Amberg 


Forest Jet. 


written 


for 


Norrls Jet. 


Marston 


written 


for 


Mauston 


Melville 


written 


for 


Mlllvllle 


Downsville 


written 


for 


Dunnville 


Iron Lake 


written 


for 


lona T,ake 


Hagerton 


written 


for 


Edgerton 



ERRORS IN ARITHMETIC 

Great care should be taken by the salesperson in addi- 
tion, subtraction and multiplication of figures in items. If 
errors In figures occur, they may mean loss in dollars and 
cents to the store, the customer or the salesperson, and 
general dissatisfaction on the part of all three parties. 
The customer loses faith in the ability of the store to ef- 
ficiently tend to details within its scope of responsibility, 
the store manager feels indignant that a customer should 



STORE SYSTEM AND METHOD 



215 



be lost on account of an error that could have been pre- 
vented, and the salesperson feels humiliated by the accusa- 
tion (spoken or silent) of not only the customer and store 
manager but of herself. 

The recognition of errors made tends to undermine 
one's ability to successfully withstand the negative sug- 
gestion of self-failure, unless effort is made after each 
error to prevent Its future recurrence. If errors In calcu- 
lation (as well as other errors) are not eliminated by in- 
telligent effort, they become a millstone around the neck 
of the perpetrator. In other words, the ability to elimi- 
nate errors varies Inversely with the length of time that 
they are permitted to exist. Not only this, error is in- 
fectious and If permitted to remain In every-day action 
for any length of time without counter irritants, It will 
multiply itself in wide directions. Likewise, ability to 
eliminate error grows with application and disseminates 
itself as a protective measure throughout the entire con- 
duct of an individual, finally eliminating old tendencies 
toward error and guarding against the development of 
new negative qualities. 

Mistakes in calculation are due to carelessness, lack 
of training or lack of ability. Seldom is a salesperson 
found without the ability to carry out simple arithmetic 
processes, although It must be admitted this ability varies 
between wide limits. In other words, any salesperson 
who cares enough about her work and her own success to 
put forth a little effort and study, can become proficient 
enough in calculation to avoid error. 

Lack of training, no doubt, accounts for at least one- 
fourth of the errors in calculation. Practice and then 
more practice is the only remedy. If the salesperson will 
begin with simple arithmetic processes, progressing up to 




2l6 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



those involving more figures, and spend some time each 
day working these out, she will soon become proficient to 
a degree formerly considered Impossible. Calculation 
without the use of paper and pencil may be practiced on 
the way home and back to work, thereby Increasing the 
salesperson's ability to avoid error and yet not absorbing 
enough of her leisure time to make her work monotonous. 
In fact, as proficiency increases, the possibilities are that 
new interest will grow in the work and more and more 
of the salesperson's time out of hours will be employed 
in understanding more about her occupation. It is need- 
less to say that such Industry brings its material as well 
as its mental satisfactions. 

Carelessness accounts for two-thirds of the errors in 
calculation. From one point of view this is merely an 
aspect of lack of training, because. It may be said. If the 
salesperson was trained she would not be careless. No 
doubt this is true in a sense, but carelessness as here con- 
sidered has a little different meaning. It is here used to 
account for the errors in all those cases where salespeople 
have ability and are able to calculate accurately when 
they concentrate their attention sufficiently on the prob- 
lem. Often a certain speed and accuracy Is attained in 
calculation and the salesperson becomes contented and 
elects to merely maintain this efficiency instead of increas- 
ing it. Because of this fact the calculation becomes me- 
chanical, the salesperson's mind Is often dwelling on other 
things when she is adding, subtracting and multiplying, 
and error creeps in when the back Is turned. Conscious 
vigilance Is the only surety against error, no matter what 
the field of endeavor. 

The annoyance and cost of errors in calculation in dif- 
ferent kinds of orders, are illustrated as follows: 



STORE SYSTEM AND METHOD 



217 



(a) Overcharge In C. O. D. Orders. 

With a C. O. D. order the driver could not leave the 
goods unless the customer paid the amount called for, 
in this case an overcharge. If the customer, realizing 
that the mistake was no fault of hers, refused to pay the 
overcharge, she could not have the goods and most likely 
the store would have lost the sale and possibly a cus- 
tomer. If she accepted the goods and paid the over- 
charge, her attitude of mind upon coming to the store for 
an explanation would not be pleasant to contemplate. 
Whether or not the customer continued to purchase from 
this store, a mistake of th-is nature has neutralized many 
costly devices that a clever store manager has used to 
build up good will and make his store distinctive for its 
service. 

(b) Undercharge in C. O. D. Orders. 

If the customer pays less than she should have paid 
had the error not existed, It Is Impossible in some cases 
to collect the amount of the undercharge and in other 
cases it Is not expedient. For the most part, it is wis- 
dom on the part of the store to make no further claim 
from the customer and thereby magnify its own mistake, 
but to bear the loss Itself or shift it to the salesperson 
making the error. Experience would seem to indicate 
that It would be good policy for the store to bear the loss 
Itself, but to eliminate any salesperson incapable of reduc- 
ing such errors to a minimum. 

(c) Overcharge, Cash and Delivery Orders. 

In this case It would be necessary to notify the customer 
of the overcharge, I. e., to call her attention to the store's 
negligence, and credit her account with the excess charge 






I 



2l8 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



or pay her the difference in cash. She may wonder how 
many mistakes may have been made in the past, unknown 
to either herself or the store. While notification of the 
overcharge will indicate the store's intention to be honest, 
it likewise indicates its inability to give service at all 
times. Formerly, where the customer implicitly trusted 
the store's calculations, she will now have cause for dis- 
trust. For it must be remembered that not only in- 
tentionally dishonest people should be distrusted but also 
those with good intentions but little knowledge. No 
salesperson can be trusted any further than her knowl- 
edge. 

It should be realized by all salespeople that their func- 
tion is to create confidence in themselves, the store, its 
methods and its goods — and not the contrary. The 
salesperson who, for any reason whatever, causes dis- 
trust to arise in the customer's mind is a liability to any 
retail store. 

(d) Overcharge, Cash and Carry Orders. 

If, in this case, the goods are taken home and some 
time elapses before the customer receives notice of the 
overcharge, the effects on all parties concerned will be 
very similar to those just indicated in the Overcharge, 
Cash and Delivery Orders. 

However, if the salesperson can rectify her error be- 
fore the customer leaves the counter, the evils resulting 
from the mistake are less marked and are not so perma- 
nent in character. The customer has not lost the use 
of the excessive charge for more than a few moments; 
she has not had much time to think of what the article 
cost and hence her impressions are not deep-set and can 
be more readily removed; the salesperson is before her 



STORE SYSTEM AND METHOD 



219 



to diplomatically explain away the blunder and to distract 
her attention from it to the goods ordered or to other 
articles on display; the error will not become a topic for 
conversation among her friends and hence the good will 
of the store will not be injured. 

Besides these advantages of remedying the error be- 
fore complications with the customer ensue, might be 
mentioned the saving of time and the prevention of con- 
fusion to the store which result from prompt discovery 
and remedy of error, as well as the satisfaction accruing 
to the salesperson herself. Better no error at all, but 
error admitted, its prompt correction prevents the sever- 
est condemnation. 

(e) Undercharge, C'ash and Delivery, Cash and Carry 
Orders. 

What has been said in (b) regarding undercharged C. 
O. D. orders applies to these two cases under considera- 
tion. If the goods have been turned over to the customer 
for a definite sum of money, a contract of sale has been 
completed — goods have been sold and delivered for a 
consideration. The implication is that the store is will- 
ing to dispose of the goods for the sum involved, since 
a business establishment is, prima facie at least, working 
from the motives of self-interest. Errors it will make 
in judgment as well as in contracts to buy and sell, but 
such should in no way be assumed by the customer or 
called to her attention. 

In these cases under consideration, if the error is dis- 
covered before the customer leaves the counter the situa- 
tion is somewhat different. What has been said in (d) 
regarding Overcharge, Cash and Carry Orders applies 
here. Tact and cheerfulness on the part of the sales- 



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RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



person can accomplish a successful correction on the sales 
check; for it must be remembered that a correction is not 
successful unless the customer is entirely satisfied. 

In justification of such a correction the argument can 
be plausibly advanced that the sale is not completed until 
the customer has left the counter, and there is no implica- 
tion that the store is willing to give up the goods for 
less than marked when it has not yet delivered those goods 
to the customer. In other words, the error takes place in 
the midst of a transaction to buy and sell and not after 
the transaction is completed and the goods delivered. 
Hence, again the necessity of being certain that the sales 
check is correctly made out before the customer leaves 
the counter. 

(f) Overcharge, Charge and Deliver, Charge and Carry 
Orders. 

What has been said regarding the cash orders in (c) 
and (d) when the customer has left the counter, applies 
here; with the exception that it is much easier from the 
standpoint of preventing customers' dissatisfaction to 
eliminate the excess charge from the books, than it is to 
refund the actual cash to the customer. In one case a 
theoretical sum has been taken from her while in the 
other case tangible money. 

Obviously an overcharge on a Charge and Deliver 
Order is not fraught with the danger incident to an over- 
charge on a C. O. D. Order, the details of which have 
already been discussed. 

When the customer has not left the counter, adjustment 
without friction can be made as discussed in (d) and (e), 
and for the same reasons. 



STORE SYSTEM AND METHOD 



221 



(g) Undercharge, Charge and Deliver, Charge and 
Carry Orders. 

These cases, where the customer has left the counter, 
are somewhat different from other cases of undercharge 
under similar circumstances, since, it may be argued, the 
sales transaction is not complete until a bill has been sent 
to the customer and paid by her. Then, only, is the 
transaction closed. Until that time readjustments of a 
necessary nature can be made on the books. 

Since the error is a more or less theoretical one until 
the customer has actually paid the money for the goods, 
there is less possibility of dissatisfaction arising. In 
case the customer has not left the counter, what has been 
previously said regarding correction of errors would ap- 
ply here. 

ERRORS IN HA.NDLING ORDER 

(a) Orders sent C. O. D. instead of Charge. 

This error is fraught with serious consequences. A 
charge customer has usually established her credit and 
is trusted; if an order is sent to her C. O. D. such action 
intimates that her credit is not good. The customer feels 
that the store questions her buying or paying integrity. 
The insinuation is a cruel one especially if thrust into a 
sensitive or supersensitive nature. The customer has 
asked the store to have her goods charged and she feels 
that if the store mistrusts her willingness or ability to 
pay, it ought to inform her in a fair open way, and not 
in an insulting manner by sending the order C. O. D. 

Usually, on being appraised of an error of this nature, 
the salesperson retorts that the customer wanted the 
goods delivered C. O. D. Since it is an exceptional thing 






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RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



for a charge customer to request her orders sent C. O. 
D. an error of this kind can be practically eliminated by 
questioning the customer on this point definitely and then 
writing on the sales check, " C. O. D. by request," thereby 
indicating that an understanding of the case exists. 

To one who may think that the error just referred to 
is an uncommon occurrence, it may be stated that a com- 
petent authority estimates that over looo such errors ex- 
isted in one year in one large Philadelphia department 
store.^ There can be little doubt but that some of these 
customers were irretrievably lost because of the error. 
All possibility of such mistakes can be avoided by follow- 
ing the plan of procedure given on the following page. 

(b) Orders sent Charge instead of C. O. D. 

While this error is not so frequent as that just dis- 
cussed, it is of sufficient occurrence to be given serious 
consideration. When such an error has been made, the 
customer is under the necessity of coming to the store to 
pay for the order which the deliveryman insisted on leav- 
ing without pay; or it may be that the customer is sur- 
prised on receiving a bill at the end of the month and, be- 
ing without an established credit with the store, she may 
refuse to pay the bill on the grounds that the order was 
never received. 

Whether or not the error develops into the extreme 
situation just made reference to, errors of this nature 
cause a feeling of distrust on the part of the customer, 
which, if fanned into activity by a rapid succession of more 
trivial errors in her store dealings, may prove to be the 

1 Corbion, W. A., " Principles of Salesmanship, Deportment and System." 
Page 319. 



STORE SYSTEM AND METHOD 



223 



entering wedge to dislodge this customer's patronage 
from the store. 

In conclusion, the most certain safeguard against the 
errors portrayed is to systematically gather the Informa- 
tion in the following manner: 

(a) The attention of the customer should be secured 
and held. Distractions of all kinds must be eliminated 
and the Impression given that even though the sale has 
been made, there still remains a very important transac- 
tion to be fulfilled. 

(b) Write plainly, with sufficient pressure on each 
letter, making certam that the carbon Is In the right place 
and functioning correctly. 

(c) Looking at the customer, the salesperson should 
ask for her name and then write It down, requesting her 
to spell It if necessary. The same practice should be 
followed as regards the street name, house number and 
town. In other words, each of the four parts of the ad- 
dress should be dealt with as distinct units, after the sales- 
person has placed herself In an attentive and efficient way 
to receive them, I. e., in an upright position facing the 
customer. 

Sometimes there is a fifth element in the address, viz., 
" In care of." If the name of the Individual is not given, 
or is at a temporary address, or Is not well-known, the 
salesperson should place some definite responsible name 
under this caption. 

(d) The salesperson should read aloud the name and 
address in a clear concise manner, without slurring vowels, 
dropping off endings or '* mouthing " syllables. 

(e) The entire sales check should be presented to the 
customer for verification and the salesperson should en- 



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RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



courage careful inspection of the name, address and items. 
If such care is taken in making out sales checks, innum- 
erable errors now being committed will be eliminated, 
much good will now being lost will be retained and aug- 
mented, and a large cause of friction between salespeople 
and store managers will be wiped out. Such an increase 
in efficiency will also prove to be a community builder, 
since the chief thing that a retailer has to offer, viz., serv- 
ice, will have been greatly bettered. 

RECEIVING AND MAKING CHANGE 

Misunderstandings arise in receiving cash from cus- 
tomers because the latter often believe they give the sales- 
person an amount of money other than is actually the case. 
Usually the mistake arises over the denomination of 
paper money. The customer hands the salesperson what 
she believes to be a five-dollar bill when it is actually a 
one or two^dollar bill. The salesperson makes change 
and returns the silver. The customer is taken back be- 
cause she expects more money than she receives. Some 
cases have arisen where the salesperson could not make 
the customer believe that a mistake had been made by 
the latter, and the suspicions of the customer were 
aroused. 

Such a misunderstanding is absolutely unnecessary and 
can be forestalled by the salesperson '' calling back " the 
amount of the money received from the customer. If 
the customer admits by a nod of the head or a look of ac- 
quiescence that the amount called back is what she in- 
tended to give the salesperson, then there is no possibility 
for controversy. The salesperson should be careful in 
" calling back " the amount not to make the operation me- 
chanical and therefore endanger its passing unobserved by 



STORE SYSTEM AND METHOD 



225 



the customer. The " calling back '' should take the form 
of a question thereby attracting the customer's attention 
and insuring an understanding. 

Not only are errors made in receiving change but also 
in making or returning it. The change should never be 
returned in bulk, as such an operation avoids an under- 
standing with the customer, and later on, if she has less 
money in her purse than she had supposed, she will most 
hkely lay the blame on the salesperson instead of looking 
further for some better reason for the shortage. The 
amount of change should be counted out, piece by piece, 
commencing with the total price of the purchase. For 
example, if the order cost forty-five cents, the salesperson 
should first say, " forty-five cents," then laying down a 
nickel, complete the addition, calling out " fifty cents," 
then laying down a fifty-cent piece, complete the addition, 
calling out " one dollar "— or the amount originally given 
by the customer. Such a method secures an understand- 
mg between both customer and salesperson and also an 
agreement by the former that she has received the correct 
amount. Very seldom is there a " come back " on the 
salesperson when such care to avoid error is used. 

The change should always be counted out on the 
counter directly in front of the customer, and not Into her 
hand. This method prevents the customer receiving any 
pieces of money that are not desirable to her, such as 
Canadian, chipped or disfigured coins, or coins made use- 
less by holes. It also, in necessitating her picking up the 
money, forcibly attracts her attention to the operation and 
thus tends to minimize the possibility of her mind being 
elsewhere. 

The change should be delivered to the right person — 
never left on the counter. The necessity for this caution 






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RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



can best be Illustrated by an experience of the writer's 
two years ago In a northern Indiana town. A collar had 
been asked for and received. A dollar was handed to the 
salesperson, who, on request, directed the customer to a 
mirror where the new collar was made to replace the old 
one. On coming back to the counter where the purchase 
had been made, the customer asked the salesperson, who 
was waiting on another customer, for his change. The 
salesperson replied that he had left it laying on the coun- 
ter. The customer looked all around but could not find 
it and protested that it was nowhere to be seen; where- 
upon the salesperson examined the counter where the 
change should have been and admitted the money had 
disappeared. On being asked for new change (85c) , the 
salesperson replied that the loss would have to be borne 
by the customer since it was the business of the latter to 
look after his change. The customer protested in vain 
and was forced to pay one dollar for the collar. 



PROBLEMS 

Chapter I 

1. Progress in any line of endeavor is essentially dependent upon 
what attribute of human nature? 

2. What is a specialist? The specialist is under what obliga- 
tions to society? 

3. " The manufacturer is a producer of wealth because he 
makes things, but how about the retailer ; he only buys goods and 
sells them at a higher price. He doesn't make anything, i.e., 
bring anything into existence, and therefore he is not a producer 
of wealth. All who are not producers of wealth are parasites, and 
as such should be eliminated from our society." 

Criticize line by line. Admitting that the last sentence is true, 
does this necessarily force us to agree with the rest of the quota- 
tion? 

4. " In every sale of goods one party to the transaction is always 
the loser. The retailer must be the winner in the largest per 
cent of the sales that he makes or he must go out of business.*' 

Point out fallacy in both sentences of quotation. 

5. Account for the historical social standing of the tradesman 
or retailer. 

6. " The buying public showed a ready willingness to respond to 
the new principles of retailing brought forth by the revolution 
in distribution." Explain. 

7. Retailer, " If I can keep my competitor across the street 
ignorant of better merchandising methods, and if I can profit by 
a knowledge of these methods, it stands to reason, doesn't it, that 
I will be the gainer? A man is a fool to give up trade secrets. 

227 




228 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



Put the other fellow out of business if you can. That's the only 
way you can live nowadays." 

Criticize sentence by sentence. 

8. What is the most important change going on in retail selling 
at the present time? 

Chapter II 

1. What are the chief reasons why the salesperson should be- 
come an expert? 

2. What new functions will the expert salesperson be called 
upon to perform in the future? 

3. " Expert merchandising knowledge reacts on the salesperson 
so as to increase her efficiency." In what ways does such knowl- 
edge perform this function? 

4. " Not one customer in a hundred desires to know the history 
of merchandise, hence the time spent in acquiring such informa- 
tion is unproductive." Salesperson. Do you agree? 

5. " Too much low priced merchandise is being sold in retail 
stores at the present time." How would you remedy this? 

6. What stages must the human mind be led through before 
a sale can be made? Give any evidence to show that salespeople 
overlook these important stages. 

7. What is meant by the assertion that salespeople often lack a 
" vocabulary " ? How can a vocabulary be secured ? 

8. " The mail order advertising merely dwells upon those fea- 
tures of the merchandise that would be obvious if the goods were 
actually displayed before the customer." Discuss the value of 
dwelling upon these " obvious " features of the goods when selling 
in retail stores. 

Chapter III 

1. Enumerate the facts that the salesperson should know about 
the merchandise. 

2. In showing an aluminum cooking utensil to a customer in 
the effort to make a sale, a salesperson held the article and cx- 



PROBLEMS 



229 



plained many interesting facts regarding its manufacture and its 
capabilities for use. Although her talk was interesting and pleas- 
ingly given it did not appear to induce the customer to action. 

What further would you have done to persuade the customer to 
buy? 

3. State three services that some article in your department will 
perform for the customer. 

4. In ascertaining the composition of any article, what questions 
would have to be answered? 

5. *' The value of any article is not fixed. A salesperson has 
unlimited possibilities to increase or decrease it." What are some 
of these " possibilities " ? 

6. Where can expert knowledge be secured? Which source is 
the most valuable and readily available? 

7. Is it enough for the salesperson to know merchandise from 
the standpoint of quality f 

8. What is the best method of preparing a sales talk? 



Chapter IV 

1. Discuss the statement, " Salesmanship is chiefly applying an 
intimate knowledge of human nature." 

2. Compare the scientific with the unscientific salesperson in 
their manner of handling human nature. 

3. What are buying motives or instincts? Enumerate them. 

4. Using some article in your department, how could you utilize 
these instincts in a selling talk? 

5. Illustrate how the instinct of vanity may be appealed to? 

6. A salesperson, in selling a large easy chair, indicated its de- 
sign, finish and construction, and pictured it in the personal own- 
ership of the customer in the latter's own home. What instincts 
would you appeal to in order to induce decision ? 

7. " Appeals to instincts must be tactfully made or the cus- 
tomer will be antagonized." In the case of what instinct is this 
especially true? Explain. 

8. (a) A woman who loves the emulation of her companions 



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230 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



hesitates buying a set of furs, although appeals have been made 
to her from the standpoints of economy, pleasure, style and utility. 
What further buying motive should be appealed to? 

(b) The wife of a certain professional man often finds it to her 
interests to associate virith w^omen whose husbands have a larger 
income than does her own. The salesperson's appeals to her ideas 
of economy and utility obviously aroused intense interest and 
created a desire to buy a set of furs, but no action resulted. The 
appeal to what buying motive should have quickly produced ac- 
tion ? 

9. " One important instinct cannot be appealed to unless the 
salesperson has an intimate knowledge of offerings in departments 
other than her own." Explain. 

10. '' All people are lazy." How can the salesperson make use 
of this attribute of human nature? 

Chapter V 

1. "The differences between people are small." 
" People are as different as night and day." 

Can you reconcile these two statements? Of what significance 
to salespeople is your conclusion? 

2. A man with a quick nervous walk and a tense expression 
comes to the counter and asks in a short, sharp, rapid way for a 

certain article. 

What would be your reaction toward this type of customer? 

3. The number of hats that a certain customer is interested in 
has sifted down to three, then two, then one. It seems apparent 
that the customer realizes that he ought to decide but for some 
reason or other he hesitates and says that he will come again. 

How would you handle such a case, (a) If the customer has 
slow, rhythmical movements and gestures; a poised, dignified ex- 
pression ; speaks in a slow, careful manner ; and gives careful at- 
tention to detailed information regarding the hat? 

(b) If the customer has a somewhat shifting glance; eccentric 
and uncertain bodily movements ; speaks in a catchy and hesitating 



■■^"•som^mmimmmmm^' 



PROBLEMS 



231 



manner; and gives only a divided or haphazard attention to the 
sales talk. 

4. Customer, looking at a piece of suiting, *' That's a beautiful 
cheviot." Salesperson, " That's not a cheviot, it's a serge." 

With what type or types of customer would such a rejoinder 
be suicidal to sales ; with what type or types would it make little 
difference ; with what type or types would it strengthen the sales 
talk? 

5. " The salesperson should never force the customer to buy." 
Are there any exceptions to this rule ? 

6. Is it always the fault of the salesperson, the goods or the 
store, when one or all three are held under suspicion by a cus- 
tomer ? 

Where such suspicion exists, how would you handle it? 

7. " Some customers are just ornery; they keep quiet, look wise 
and try to impress the salesperson with their personality. When 
I get one like this I just let her know that she can't put anything 
over on me." Salesperson. 

What type or combination of types is here referred to? How 
would you deal with the customer here described ? 

8. " A certain customer may exhibit different mental types at 
different times." 

" The average man at any one time cannot be classified with 
any one particular mental type; he is a combination of different 
types." 

Allowing that these quotations are correct, does the study of 
the different mental types have any value? 

9. " You can't judge a man by his clothes." 
" The apparel doth oft proclaim the man." 
Which quotation is right? 

10. " Certain types of customers demand the argumentative 
method as the one to be used in selling them goods." Just how 
do customers " demand " this method ? 



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RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 

Chapter VI 



PROBLEMS 



233 



I 



1. What is personality? 

2. What is enthusiasm? How can it be developed? 

3. Of what does loyalty consist? What are the "conditions'* 

for its existence? 

4. Explain why retail selling is monotonous for some sales- 
people. 

5. " Honesty is not merely telling the truth; it is a trinity of 

honorable dealings." Explain. 

6. Describe some common forms of dishonesty in selling goods. 

How may these be remedied ? 

7. " Lack of merchandise knowledge may induce salespeople to 
fall back on their imaginations for descriptive material." What 
form of dishonesty usually results in such cases? 

8. Supposing a traveling salesman desired to look at tooth 
brushes. Give a sales talk that would induce him to purchase two 
brushes, and yet one which would be entirely honest. 

Supposing any kind of customer, perform the same exercise with 
collars, shirts or any article in your department. 

9. *' It doesn't always pay to tell a customer all that you know 
about the goods." 

Discuss from at least two difEerent standpoints. 

10. " A salesperson must be sincere with herself ; she must act 

as she feels." 

Show wherein the practice of the command embodied in the 
last clause might vitiate the principle stated in the first. 

11. A thorough knowledge of merchandise is the basis for what 
important element of personality? 

12. A certain store advertises bargains but seldom has any to 
offer ; it has different prices for the same goods to different people. 

As regards the positive qualities of its salespeople, how is this 
store defeating its own success ? 

13. A certain salesperson loafs on her job and fails to acquire 
expert knowledge of the goods she is selling. What quality or 
qualities of personality are being destroyed? 



14. What characterizes a tactful salesperson? 

15. The personalities of a customer and salesperson clash. The 
customer is sullenly looking at neckties. How might an untactf ul 
salesperson antagonize the customer ? What would a tactful sales- 
person do under the circumstances? 

16. '' Tactless salespeople lack imagination." Explain. 

17. "A tactful salesperson diagnoses conditions before proceed- 
ing." What is meant ? 

18. A woman with a troublesome child is endeavoring to ascer- 
tain the nature of the values offered at the counter. What most 
prominent qualities of personality would be needed to handle the 
situation successfully ? 

19. On being asked the nature of the material in certain neck- 
wear, the salesperson answered, " Silk." The customer said that 
she was certam the material was " Three-fourths cotton." 

What forces of personality should here be used ? 

Chapter VII 

1. Why cannot a salesperson afford to be a "diamond in the 
rough " ? 

2. Enumerate six acts of courtesy that any salesperson could 
daily perform with each customer. Name three unusual acts of 
courtesy that would make one's selling distinctive. 

3. " Courtesy is a means of discovering and exhibiting other 
success attributes." Explain. 

4. What is meant by saying that courtesy is an " avenue of 
approach " ? "A medium of exchange ? " 

5. How may courtesy be developed? 

6. Illustrate how discourtesy may become confused with 
honesty; feelings with sincerity. 

7. Of what does promptness consist? 

8. Discuss the reasons for lack of promptness. 

9. Who are " lookers "? How should they be handled > 

10. Explain why direct interrogation is psychologically a crude 
form of salutation. 



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RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



II." Customers resent anything that tends to put them under 
obligations to buy." Explain. 

12. " Cheerfulness is not merely a matter of the face." Ex- 
plain. 

13. What are some " conditions " necessary for cheerfulness? 

14. "A salesperson not only sells goods but also her person- 
ality." What is meant? 

15. Enumerate some smiles that do not indicate cheerfulness. 

16. " Unless you are naturally cheerful there is no use * putting 
on * a smile. A smile that is not natural is soon detected and 
appraised at its true value." 

(a) Admitting that the last sentence is true, does the first con- 
tention necessarily follow ? 

(b) In place of the word " cheerful," substitute " a salesper- 
son," and after the word " use," substitute '* attempting to sell 
goods." Do you agree to the implication of the new reading? 

17. What is the relation between cheerfulness and merchandise 
knowledge? Knowledge of human nature? 



Chapter VIII 

1. How does every-day observation indicate that many sales- 
people do not understand the selling process? 

2. Indicate the different elements that enter into the act of 
attracting attention. 

3. How may words and actions be utilized to arouse interest? 

4. ''Desire to buy must be created; it doesn't just happen." 
What methods should be used to create desire ? 

5. When should a sale be ** closed " ? 

6. Describe some methods of closing sales. 

7. State some common objections and indicate now they may be 

met. 

8. " There is no way that a salesperson can tell what objection 
a customer has up her sleeve." Do you agree? State one or two 
practical ways of determining unstated objections. 



PROBLEMS 



23s 



9. " An anticipated objection is no objection while a stated ob- 
jection is twice an objection." Explain. 

10. " Objections can sometimes be forestalled by appealing to 
the instinct of imitation." Explain. 

11. Explain how ability to forestall or meet objections may be 
dependent upon merchandise knowledge. Knowledge of the cus- 
tomer. 

12. How should a customer be treated who desires to " shop "? 

13. Is there any advantage in knowing competitors' goods? 

14. Give three methods of introducing other goods after the 
sale. Which is the best method? Why? 

15. What goods should a salesperson suggest after a sale has 
been made? 

16. When is the best time to introduce other goods? 

17. " It is chiefly from the standpoint of service that other 
goods should be introduced at the close of the sale." Support this 
contention. 

18. A customer asked the salesperson for a linen collar. The 
salesperson in a pleasant manner took down a box of collars, re- 
moved one, then said, " You wouldn't want two, would you ? " 
" No," said the customer, as he returned the congenial smile of 
the salesperson who wrapped up the collar neatly, in the mean- 
while remarking about the results of the election which was the 
topic in the minds of the people at the time. The customer took 
the package, left the store and was impressed with the friendliness 
and courtesy of the salesperson. 

What principle of salesmanship was violated ? 

Chapter IX 

1. Illustrate and trace the diflftculties that may occur because 
(a) items of sale have been abbreviated, (b) figures are indistinct, 
(c) charge name is illegible. 

2. " The average salesperson doesn't even know the three R*s." 
Store manager. 

What basis is there for such a statement? 




236 




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RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



2013 Market 

578 N. llac 

148 1 chid Ave. 

205 E. 15 

nil N. 4 



2013 New Market. 
1578 N. Cadillac. 
1 48 1 Orchid Ave. 
1205 E. 15th St. 
nil N. 47th St. 



3. " Close attention supplemented by careful interrogation is 
the best insurance against sales check blunders." 

Argue in support of this contention using illustrations if neces- 
sary. 

chetk^'''^ ^'"^trations of common errors of omission on the sales 

5. What is the danger of transposition of figures and letters in 
names and addresses? 

6. The following errors have been made on sales checks. How 
can you account for them ? 

should be 
should be 
should be 
should be 
should be 

7. " A large percentage of mistakes found in sales checks are 
due to phonetic errors." 

^^Explain and illustrate what is meant. What remedy can you 

8. "Incorrect naming of articles sold is a great source of in- 
convenience to the customer and embarrassment to the store." 

Illustrate. 

9. A customer, in payment of a $1.25 purchase, handed the 
^lesperson a two-dollar bill thinking it was a five-dollar bill 
I he salesperson accepted the money, made change and handed 
back seventy-five cents to the customer. The customer protested, 
claimmg that she had tendered a five-dollar bill in payment for 
the goods. 

How could this unpleasant situation have been avoided ? 

10. In a certain store the semi-annual inventory always* reveals 
a shortage in piece goods. The management is certain of the 
integrity of the salespeople in this department and is at a loss to 
understand the cause. 

Can you give any reason that might account for this shortage? 

11. Indicate some problems that arise in the wrapping of goods. 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 
SALESMANSHIP BOOKS 

Atkinson, W. W., Psychology of Salesmanship. 19 12, Towne, E. 
Benedict- Roche, A., Salesmanship for Women. 19 13, Meadville, 

Pa. 
Blackford, K., Analyzing Character. 1916, Alden. 
Brisco, N. A., Fundamentals of Salesmanship. 19 16, Appleton. 
Butler, E. B., Training for Salesmanship, Academy of Political 

Science. 
Cody, Sherwin, How to Deal with Human Nature in Business. 

1915, Funk. 
Corbion, W. A., Principles of Salesmanship, Deportment and Sys- 
tem. 191 7, Jacobs. 
Dukesmith, F. H., Salesmanship Analyzed. 19 10, Dukesmith 

School of Salesmanship. 
Eastman, G. R., Psychology of Salesmanship. 19 16, Service Pub. 

Co., Dayton, O. 
Estabrook, P. L., The Science of Salesmanship. 1904, Univ. 

Text Book Co., Dallas, Texas. 
Fisk, J. W., Retail Selling. 19 16, Harper. 
Fowler, N. C, Practical Salesmanship. 191 1, Little. 
Goffe, W. T., Problems in Retail Selling. 19 13, Western Ptg. & 

Lith. Co., Racine, Wis. 
Hall, S. R., Short Talks on Retail Selling. 191 5, Funk. 
Hirschler, D., The Art of Retail Selling. 1909, Inst, of Mercan- 
tile Training, N. Y. 
Hollingsworth, H. L., Advertising and Selling. 191 3, Appleton. 
Hoyt, C. W., Scientific Sales Management. 19 13, Woolson. 
Knox, J. S., Salesmanship and Business Efficiency. 191 7, Knox 
School of Salesmanship. 

227 



! 



238 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



Knox, J. S., Science of Applied Salesmanship, Vol. II. 191 8, 

Knox School of Salesmanship. 
Leichter, E., Successful Selling. 1914, Funk. 
Lennington, N. G., Seven Principles of Successful Salesmanship. 

19 1 8, Science System, Scranton, Pa., Commercial. 
Lindgren, C, New Salesmanship. 191 1, Laird. 
Mantegazza, P., Physiognomy and Expression. 1905, Scribner. 
Marden, O. S., Selling Things. 19 16, Crowell. 
Mason, R. O., Hypnotism and Suggestion. 1901, Holt. 
Maxwell, W. M., Salesmanship. 19 14, Houghton. 
Moody, W. D., Men Who Sell Things. 191 2, McClurg. 
Nystrom, P. H., Retail Selling and Store Management. 19 14, 

Appleton. 
Opdycke, J. B., News Ads and Sales. 191 5, Macmillan. 
Russell, T. H., Salesmanship, Theory and Practice. 19 10, Inter- 
national Law & Business Inst. 
Rust, T. D., A. B. C. of Salesmanship. 191 4, Fenno. 
Scott, W. D., Influencing Men in Business. 191 6, Ronald. 
Sheldon, A F., The Art of Selling. 191 1, Sheldon University 

Press. 
Stanton, M. O., The Encyclopedia of Face and Form Reading. 

19 1 3, Davis. 
Taylor, H. C, What a Salesman Should Know. 1913, Browne 

& Howell. 
Vardaman, B. R., Master Salesman. 191 1, Merchants Trade 

Journal, Des Moines, la. 
Whitehead, H., Salesmanship and Business Efficiency. 1914, 

American School of Business. 
Whitehead, H., Principles of Salesmanship. 191 7> Ronald. 
Woodworth, S., Success in Salesmanship. 1912, American School 

of Commerce. 



m 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 239 

BOOKS ON BUSINESS 

Blackford, K. M., and Newcomb, Arthur, The Job, the Man, the 

Boss. 1 9 14, Doubleday. 
Bogart, E. L., Business Economics. 19 15, LaSalle Extension Uni- 
versity. 
Brisco, N. A., Economics of Business. 1913, Macmillan; Eco- 
nomics of Efficiency. 19 14, Macmillan. 
Casson, H. N., Ads and Sales. 191 1, McClurg. 
Cherington, P. T., Advertising as a Business Force. 19 13, Dou- 
bleday. 
Cottingham, W. H., Business Success. 1916, W. H. Cotting- 

ham, Cleveland, Ohio. 
Crewdsen, W. A., Building Business. 1907, Appleton. 
Eastman, G. R., Psychology for Business Efficiency. Service Pub. 

Co., Lafayette, Indiana. 
Emerson, H. The Twelve Principles of Efficiency. 1912, Eng. 

Magazine. 
Fiske, A. K., Honest Business. 19 14, Putnam. 
Gilbreth, L. E., The Psychology of Management. 191 4, Sturgis 

& Walton. 
Higinbotham, H. N., The Making of a Merchant. 1906, Forbes. 
Kleiser, G., Salesmanship and Advertising. 19 13, Funk. 
Larsen, C. D. Business Psychology. 19 12, Crowell. 
Lewis, St. Elmo, Getting the Most Out of Business. 19 16, Ron- 
ald. 
McVey, F. L., Economics of Business. 191 7, Alexander Hamil- 
ton Inst. 
Marden, O. S., Training for Efficiency. 191 3, Crowell; The 

Exceptional Employee. 19 13, Crowell. 
Munsterberg, H., Psychology of Industrial Efficiency. 19 15, La 

Salle Extension University. 
Nystrom, P. H., The Economics of Retailing. 19 15, Ronald. 
Rose, W. G., Success in Business. 191 3, Duffield. 
Sammons, W., Keeping Up with Rising Costs. 19 15, A. W. 
Shaw. 



240 



RETAIL SALESMANSHIP 



Scott, W. D., The Psychology of Advertising. 1908, Small; The 
Theory of Advertising. 1903, Small; Increasing Human Ef- 
ficiency in Business. 191 1, Macmillan. 

Shaw, A. W., Approach to Business Problems. 19 16, Harvard 
Univ. Press. 

Sparling, L. E., Business Organization. 1906, Macmillan. 

Stoll, A., Winning the Trade. 19 13, Business Man's Pub. Co. 

Swinney, J. B., Merchandising. 191 7, Alexander Hamilton 
Inst. 

System Magazine, How to Talk Business to Win. 

Tipper, H., The New Business. 1914, Doubleday; 1915, Dou- 
bleday; and Hollingsworth, H. L., Advertising, Its Principles 
and Practice. 191 5, Ronald; and Hotchkiss, G. B., Adver- 
tising. 1 91 4, Alexander Hamilton Inst. 

Veblen, T., The Theory of Business Enterprise. 1904, Scribncr. 

Warren, W. P., Thoughts on Business. 19 15, Forbes. 



INDEX 



Abbreviations on sales check, 210; 
items, 210; town and street name, 

212. 

Advertising, source of information 
for salespeople, 59; knowing de- 
partment, basis for cooperation 
between departments, 59, 85; 
promptness is good, 149; supple- 
menting, 159; neutralized by 
carelessness, 162; knowledge for 
suggestion comes from, 199. 

Adviser, necessity of salesperson 
becoming an, 26. 

Agricultural revolution, 7-9. 

Alertness, necessity of, 94, 160; 
value of, 149. 

Approach, direct interrogation 
crude form of, 157; best method 
of, 159-60. 

Arguing with customers, inadvisa- 
bility of, 104; increases opposi- 
tion, 132; tactful salesperson 
avoids, 136-7. 

Arithmetic (errors in), on sales 
check, 214; mean loss to store, 
214; reasons for, 215; remedies 
for, 215; illustrations of diflFerent 
kinds of, 216-21. 

Attention, gaining customers', 82, 
159; method of concentrating cus- 
tomers', loi ; six general methods 
of attracting customers', 168; a 
method of attracting, 169. 

Attitude, how to attract attention 
by, 168-9. 

Authority, value of, in sales talk, 
H2; should be cited in creating 
desire, 181-2; salesperson cannot 
speak with, 183. 

Bargaining in retailing, 12. 



Buying motives, see Instincts. 
Building, instinct of, 86. 
Bodily expression, indicator of 
mental processes, io8, 114. 

Carelessness, errors in calculation 
due to, 216. 

Change, errors in receiving and 
making, 224; correct way of re- 
ceiving, 224; correct way of re- 
turning, 225. 

Character analysis, 91. 

Cheerfulness, definition, 160; can- 
not be worn, 161; utilitarian 
value of a smile, 161; meaning of 
smiles and frowns, i6i; money 
value of, 162; cheerlessness re- 
pels customers, 162; is buifer 
against wear and tear of day's 
work, 162-3; should be ever- 
present, 163; smiles that are a 
liability, 163; can be developed, 
164; methods of developing, 165; 
too seldom seen in retailing, 165 ; 
in correcting sales checks, 219. 

Communities, reasons for back- 
ward, I ; individualistic nature 
of our, 16; relation of retailer to 
community clubs, 17; new view- 
point of, 18; suflFer from ineffi- 
ciency, 201. 

Companionship, instinct of, 73-4. 

Competing goods, must be known, 
191. 

Competition, unfair, 14; alleged 
failure of, 15; keener, in future 
will cause better service, 165; 
meeting, 189. 

Competitors, antagonism of, 16; 
goods, 183, 188-9. 

Conditions for selling, creating 



241 



242 



INDEX 



m 





favorable, 79-80, 83, 93, 103; 
adapting oneself to, 105. 

Confidence, how to build up cus- 
tomers', 32-3, m-13; basis for 
salesperson's, in goods, 58 ; rea- 
son for customers' lack of, 59; 
product of enthusiasm, 117; illus- 
tration of loss of customers', 126, 
129; customers trade where they 
have, in salespeople, 162; self- 
confident bearing of salesperson 
creates, in customer, 169, 173; 
customer loses, in salesperson, 
178 ; means of shaking customers', 
179-80; function of salespeople 
is to create, in themselves, 218. 

Cooperation, supplements competi- 
tion, 15; lack of, between depart- 
ments in stores, 85, 199. 

Corsets, history of, 29. 

Courtesy, definition, 140; means of 
discovering success attributes, 
141 ; lack of, breeds discourtesy, 
141 ; a medium of exchange, 142 ; 
an " extra " thrown in the pack- 
age, 142 ; how to develop, 143 ; 
makes store distinctive, 143 ; how 
discourtesy originated, 144; why 
discourtesy persists, 145 ; not dis- 
honesty, 145; sincerity no justifi- 
cation for lack of, 145; impor- 
tance of realizing growth of dis- 
courtesy, 146; courteous speech 
attracts attention, 170. 

Criticism, value of constructive, 
119. 

Curiosity, instinct of, 80-3, 176. 

Customers, deliberate, 50, 96-9, 172, 
184; knowing, 64, 90; why cus- 
tomers trade in certain stores, 
88-9, 105-6, no, 148, 153, 162; 
likenesses of, 90; differences be- 
tween, 90; basis for classification 
of, 92; impulsive or nervous, 
92-6, 167, 172, 174, 184; vacillat- 
ing or indecisive, 99-103, 195 ; 
obstinate, 102 ; confident or de- 
cisive, 103-5, 172; respect for 



sensibilities of, 105 ; talkative or 
friendly, 106-7, 172; silent or in- 
different, 107-10; breaking down 
reserve of, 109 ; have a right to 
their personalities, no; distrust- 
ful, in-13, 172; getting, to agree, 
112, 182; different at different 
times, 1 1 3-14; interests of, should 
be held paramount, 133; satisfied, 
should be aim of store, 151; 
character of approach regulated 
by type of, 153; uninviting, no 
reason for lack of promptness, 
153; are looking for satisfactions, 
153; "lookers," 154; salespeople 
do not appreciate, 155; impor- 
tance of, 155; different methods 
necessary with different, 160; 
winning over the unreasonable, 
163; tone of voice suited to type 
of, 172; must be satisfied, 178; 
desire information, 199; satisfac- 
tion of, 199. 

Dealers' Helps, value of, 60. 

Decision, inducing, 83, 92, 95, 97, 
loi, 155, 159; methods of induc- 
ing, 184; obstructions to, must be 
eliminated, 187, 189-91, 192-3. 

Demand, limited, 2; widening of, 3. 

Demonstrations, value of, 112, 183. 

Desire, creating, 83, 92, 95, 159; 
means of ascertaining, 108-9; 
methods of creating, 178. 

Development, law of modern busi- 
ness, 117. 

Directing customers, 85. 

Dishonesty, see Honesty. 

Distinction, demanded by customers, 
54-5 ; aim of retailers, 143. 

Dress, important element of per- 
sonality, 117. 

Drudgery, relation of stock knowl- 
edge to, 27; removing aspects of, 
119-20. 

Efficiency, modern, movement, 19; 
increasing, in bricklaying, 19-20; 



INDEX 



243 



carrying pig iron, 21-2; shovel- 
ing, 22-3 ; of retailer can be 
doubled, 41 ; increasing selling, 
46; employer has right to expect 
increase in, 116; relation of hon- 
esty to, 122; study produces the 
greatest selling, 148 ; greater 
selling, must be developed, 165. 
see Goods, how to study. 

Enthusiasm, definition, 27, 118; how 
to develop, 102, 119; contagious, 
117; cannot be faked, 117-18; 
develops loyalty, 118; sincerity 
basis of, 119. 

Exaggeration, 13 1-2. 

Exchange, erroneous ideas as to 
nature of, 12. 

Expertness, meaning of, 3 ; reason 
for, 26 ; indifference of salespeo- 
ple in desiring, 122; necessary in 
order to avoid dishonesty, 124; 
reason for lack of, 150; new 
standard of, 150; use of, 178. 

Experts, present demand for, 25 ; 
necessity of having, 25 ; lack of 
knowledge prevents salespeople 
becoming, 30. 

Facial expression, value of, 164; at- 
tracting attention by means of, 
169. see Smiles, Cheerfulness. 

Gloom, see Cheerfulness. 

Goods, complexity of, 25 ; knowl- 
edge of, necessary, 27, 43, 99; 
knowledge of, basis for enthusi- 
asm, 30; history of, important, 
30; knowledge of, provides vo- 
cabulary, 38 ; should be de- 
scribed, 38; how to display, 47; 
how to study, 46-57; sources of 
material for study of, 58-62; 
qualities of, not obvious to cus- 
tomer, 58; location of, 62; quan- 
tity of, on hand, 62-3 ; sent out 
on approval, 76 ; introducing 
other, at close of sale, 196; easy 
to dispose of but hard to sell. 



96; not sold until consumed, 96; 
misrepresentation of, 123 ; offer 
infinite possibilities for study, 
149; best method of introducing 
other, 198; when to introduce 
other, 198-9; kind of, to intro- 
duce after sale, 199. 

Gossiping, see Honesty. 

Guarantee, psychology of, 54; used 
in loose sense, 131. 

Happiness, reason for lack of, in 
work, 120; bases for, 121; rela- 
tion of increased efficiency to, 
124. see Cheerfulness. 

Health, 117; importance of, 169. 

Honesty, definition, 121 ; some sales- 
people dishonest, 121-2; relation 
of efficiency to, 122; mail order, 
122; lack of, robs customer of 
service, 123 ; dishonesty due to 
idleness and gossiping, 123 ; mis- 
representation of goods, 123-31; 
convincing customer of salesper- 
son's, 124; not discourteousness, 
145 ; cheerlessness a form of, 
162; relation of knowledge to, 
218. see Exaggeration, Loading. 

Human nature, importance of, not 
recognized until recently, 19; 
value of understanding, 64, 114; 
characteristics of, 87; illustra- 
tions of failure to understand, 
98 ; mistakes in diagnosis of, 
102 ; impossibility of making 
over, 109-10. 

Human processes, illustrations of 
increasing efficiency of, 20-3. 

Human types, instability of, 91. 
see Customers. 

Hunting instinct, 83-5. 

Ideas, unwillingness to adopt new, 
9 ; care in conveying, 37 ; must 
be supplied intelligently, 179; in- 
hibiting, 184, 189-90. 

Imagination, appealing to the, 41 ; 





244 



INDEX 



Illustration of appeals to, 8i, 86; 
lack of, 136. 

Imitation, instinct of, 76-80, 181. 

Indistinct and illegible writing on 
sales check, 208; names of per- 
sons, 208 ; names of streets, 208 ; 
names of places, 209 ; house num- 
bers, 209; misplaced carbon 
causes errors, 209. 

Industrial revolution, 2-8. 

Inefficiency, cause of retail, 17. 

Instincts, sales talk should appeal 
to, 57 ; enumeration and discus- 
sion of, 66-89. 

Interest, securing, 82-3, 159; how 
to detect, 108; increasing, 136, 
158; destroying, 158-9, 178; 
methods of arousing, 173. 

Judgments, value of salesperson's 
information in forming buying, 
98, 158; forming true, 154, 190; 
no information on which to form 
buying, 167. 

Knocking competitors' goods, 183. 

Knowledge of goods, 25 ; effect of, 
on personality, 31; loss to stores 
because of lack of, 33; kind of, 
necessary, 31, 43; how to handle, 
effectively, 45 ; classification of, 
45 ; means of killing suspicion, 
51; is liberal education, 51; 
basis of customers' satisfactions, 
51; how to secure, 52-7, 180; 
no justification for lack of, 62; 
easy to sell with, 99; basis 
of salespersons' confidence, 117; 
expert, necessary, 124; remedy 
for exaggeration, 132; relation 
of, to attitude, 169; arouses inter- 
est, 173 ; necessary in creating de- 
sire, 180; aids in meeting compe- 
tition, 189; suggestion dependent 
on, 199. 

Language, inefficient use of, 37. 
Laziness, 88-9, 175. 



"Loading," definition, 132; illus- 
tration of, 133. 

" Lookers," view of salespeople to- 
ward, 154; all customers are, 
154; reason lookers are over- 
looked, 155; worthy of prompt 
service, 155; are made, 156; are 
potential buyers, 156; how, are 
made, 156. 

Loyalty, stimulated by enthusiasm, 
118; based on stores' square- 
dealing, 118; definition, 118; lack 
of, can never be justified, 119. 

Mail order houses, describe goods, 
39-4if 53. 56-7; augment value 
of goods, 43-4; can sell cheaper, 
122; honesty of, 122, 126, 129; 
courtesy of, 144; methods of 
trade-getting employed by, 147 ; 
trade diverted to, 201. 

Mechanics of selling, should be 
subordinated, 77, 94-5. 

Middleman, justification of, 2. 

Minds (human), ability to change, 
I ; change of, reason for progress, 
9; must be led through four 
stages, 36, 167. 

Misrepresentation of goods, illus- 
trations of, as regards construc- 
tion, 124-6; purpose, 126-8; 
operation, 128-9; composition, 
129; durability, 130; exaggera- 
tion, 131-2. see Honesty. 

Monotony in work, produced by 
ignorance, 119-20; illustration of, 
120; unknown to retail store, 
120; creation of, by salespeople, 
121. 

Needs, salesperson must develop 
customers', 187. 

Objections, answering, by using in- 
stinct of imitation, 78-9; arguing 
stimulates customer to formulate, 
136-7; should be anticipated, 
180, 191-2; necessity of meeting. 



\y' 



INDEX 



245 



184; examples of common, 185; 
offering of, should not be en- 
couraged, 191. 

Omissions on sales check, 201 ; of 
name, 202; of letters in name, 
202 ; of items, 202 ; of " In care 
of," 203 ; of numbers in address, 
203 ; of house number, 204 ; of 
local address, 204; of locality — 
town, 205 ; of designation of 
direction, 205. 

Order-takers, significance of, com- 
pared with salespeople, 37. 

Orders, errors in handling, 221- 
24. 

Parental instinct, 71-3, 86. 

Patience, salespeople need, 107. 

Personalities, antagonistic, 137. 

Personality, elements of, 116-75; 
definition, 116; salespeople 
should develop, 116; combination 
of three factors, 117; enthusiasm, 
117-21; honesty, 121-35; tact, 
i35~9; courtesy, 140-6; impor- 
tance of, in selling, 146; prompt- 
ness, 146-60; cheerfulness, 160- 
66\ salesperson sells, 162. 

Phonetic errors on sales check, 212 ; 
in names of persons, 213; in 
names of streets, 213; in house 
numbers, 214; in names of places, 
214. 

Phrenology, 91. 

Possession, instinct of, 74-6, 175. 

Price, opportunity to sell higher, 
goods, 30, 34; failure to know 
reason for, 33; unwillingness of 
customers to pay a high, 34; 
importance of, element during 
sale, 34-5 ; undue prominence of, 
36; basis of, 52; relation of value 
to> 53 \ illustration of reasons for, 
55; method of reducing, 56; less 
important than service, 143 ; is 
fixed but not value, 177; common 
objection to closing sale, 185; 
meaning of, 187. 



Production, home, 2; inferior, 3; 
increase in, 4; stimulation of, 4; 
efficiency of machine, 4; attitude 
of workers toward change in 
methods of, 5 ; at least cost, 6 ; 
changes in agricultural, 8 ; of 
wealth, 10; reason for progress 
in machine, 19. 

Progress, cause of, i, 9; opposition 
to, 5 ; illustrations of, 6, 8 ; foe 
to, 20, 23. 

Promptness, lack of, 93 ; loss of 
trade due to lack of, 146-7; rea- 
sons for lack of, 148-60; lack of, 
due to stockkeeping, 151; lack of, 
due to fear, 151-4; lack of, due 
to misunderstanding, 154-60; 
must be tempered with under- 
standing, 157; meaning of, 160, 
168, 169, 174. 

Public library, value of, to sales- 
person, 61. 

Quality, important element subse- 
quent to sale, 34-5. 

Questions, ability to answer cus- 
tomers', 33-5; selling goods with- 
out asking, 94; used to make 
customers talk, 109; manufac- 
ture lookers, 156-7; crude form 
of approach, 157; avoidance of, 
in approach, 158; use of, over- 
looks steps in selling process, 
159; asking, not promptness, 160; 
sometimes a good form of saluta- 
tion, 171; prompt answering of 
customers', 179 ; introducing other 
goods by asking, 197; ascertain 
when objections exist, 192. 

Retail revolution, 9-19; productive 
of permanent results, 14; defini- 
tion, 25. 

Retailer, early attitude toward, 11; 
not productive, 11; early methods 
of, 11-12; modern methods of, 
12-13; demands of public recog- 



4i' 








246 



INDEX 



nized by modern, 15; attitude of, 
towards community, 15-16. 
Retailing, possibilities of, 48-9; 
variety of action in, 120-1. 

Sales, methods of increasing, 134, 
199; how made, 167, 182; clos- 
ing, 184; reasons for loss of, 
190-1. 

Sales check, offers many opportuni- 
ties for error, 201 ; examples of 
errors on, 201-24; safeguards 
against making errors on, 223-4. 

Salesmanship, definition, 32, 64, 65, 
114; meaning of, 152; good, 145, 
188-9; bad, 188, 197; corrective, 
191 ; aim of, 201. 

Salespeople, real function of, 104; 
professional people contrasted 
with, 149-50; vision of, 153; 
creators of value, 177. 

Sales talk, knowledge of goods 
necessary for a convincing, 29, 
35; preparation of, 81, 95. see 
Goods, how to study. 

Salutation, methods of, 156-7, 158, 
170; value of distinctive, 171; 
using customer's name in, 171. 

Satisfactions, basis of sale, 96, 130, 
152, 186. 

Scientific selling, 65, 99, 159, 192. 

Self-confidence, knowledge of goods 
creates, 31. see Confidence, At- 
titude. 

Selfishness, 87-8. 

Self-preservation, instinct of, 66-8. 

Selling process, first step of, 82; 
second, third and fourth steps of, 
82-3 ; interrogation fails to recog- 
nize steps of, 159; definition, 
167; analysis of, 168. 

Senses, how to appeal to, 46-7 ; 
illustration of appeals to, 47; 
method of appealing to, 175; 
creating desire by appeals to, 
183. 

Service, illustration of lack of, 
32-3, 122; value of, to retainer, 



60; to give, is reason for exist- 
ence of store, 62; desire of public 
for, 122-3, 191 > selling, 127; to 
render, is only honest objective 
for increasing sales, 135; more 
important than price, 143 ; 
prompt, demanded, 147; neces- 
sity of satisfactory, 151; prompt- 
ness is part of, 152; an unex- 
pected, attracts attention, 169 ; 
salutation should offer, 170; use 
of suggestion in giving, 199 ; aim 
of salesmanship is satisfactory, 
201 ; inability of some stores to 
give, 218. 

Shoppers, attitude of salespeople 
toward, 188. 

Silk production, history of, 28. 

Smiles, classification of, 163; attract 
attention, 169. see Cheerfulness. 

Society, division of, by functions, 6. 

Specialization, limited, 2 ; realiza- 
tion of, 3 ; necessity of, 7 ; rela- 
tion of, to experts, 25. 

Speech, form of, a method of at- 
tracting attention, 170. 

Steam engine, importance of, 3. 

Stockkeeping, undue importance of, 
151. 

Store system and method, 201-26. 

Study, value of, 53, 68, 137, 148; 
necessity of, 69, 81, 91, 110, 114, 
150; basis for enthusiasm, 118; 
when to, 149 ; in the professions, 
150; more, in future, 165; of sell- 
ing process, 167-8; of tone of 
voice, 172; of objections, 180, 
194; when to close sale, 184; 
necessary if sale is lost, 190-1. 

Suggestion, increasing sales by, 
134; negative, 159, 196, 199; in 
closing sale, 194-5. 

Tact, Importance of, 113; criticism 
possible if, is used, 119; defini- 
tion, 135; failure to use, 136, 
138; use of, in approach, 159-60; 
introducing other goods in tact- 



INDEX 



247 



ful manner, 198; in correcting 

sales check, 219. 
Tests of materials, technical, 43-4; 

practical, 44-5; reason for, 45. 
Timidness, no place for, in selling, 

152. 
Transpositions on sales check, 206; 

of letters, 206; of figures, 206; 

of purchaser's name and street 

name, 207. 
Traveling salesman, source of 

knowledge, 58. 
Types of customers, see Customers. 

Value, sentimental, 30; methods of 
adding, to goods, 30, 34, 44, 52, 
177, 182; price not necessarily an 
indicator of, 33, 182; basis of, 



34; correct conception of, 53; re- 
lation of a guarantee to, 53-4; 
illustrations of increasing, 54-5 ; 
meaning of, 56; failure to indi- 
cate, 60; not obvious, 6i; sales- 
people creators of, 177; custom- 
er's estimate of, is faulty, 186; 
"worth" contrasted with, 186. 

Vanity, instinct of, 69-71, 103; 
method of appealing to, 174-5. 

Vocabulary, salespeople lack a, 37. 

Voice, importance of tone of, in at- 
tracting attention, 171. 

Wanamaker, John, 12, 75. 
Work, reduction in hours of, 4. 
Worth, relation of, to value and 
price, 186. 



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